After this the Lord appointed seventy-two other disciples and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place, where he himself was to go. And he said to them, “The harvest is rich, but the workers are few. So you must ask the Lord of the harvest to send workers to his harvest. Courage! I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Set off without purse or bag or sandals; and do not stop at the homes of those you know.
Whatever house you enter, first bless them saying: ‘Peace to this house.’ If a friend of peace lives there, the peace shall rest upon that person. But if not, the blessing will return to you. Stay in that house eating and drinking at their table, for the worker deserves to be paid. Do not move from house to house.
When they welcome you in any town, eat what they offer you. Heal the sick who are there and say to them: ‘The kingdom of God has drawn near to you.’
But in any town where you are not welcome, go to the marketplace and proclaim: ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off and leave with you. But know for a certainty that the kingdom of God has drawn near to you.’ I tell you that on the Judgment Day it will be better for Sodom than for this town.
I have always admired the boldness of Jesus in this evangelization campaign. Seventy-two disciples is not a small army of preachers. We easily can imagine their short preparation for the task. They had just heard the teachings of the Lord and seen his miracles. And then they were sent. Why? Because the harvest was rich, and Jesus knew the will of the Father. Can we guess here the intention of Jesus during his nights of praying? Yes, he asked the Lord of the harvest and the workers were abundant. Isn’t that a lesson for us? Therese understood it.
The advice of Jesus to them deserves reflection. They were lambs among wolves. There is no evangelization without risk and opposition. Christian disciples have to be confident in God, not in human means, like purse or bag. Francis of Assisi was such a disciple; Anthony M. Claret was one too in his missions through Catalunya. He stressed that poverty is the first quality of the evangelizer.
Greetings are simple: “Peace!” Stability is demanded. No concern for meals. The message is one of awakening: “The kingdom of God has drawn near to you.” This seems to echo John the Baptist’s preaching.
The final remark is not to be forgotten. The Gospel is the ultimate invitation. The gesture of wiping off of the dust is a symbol. The allusion to Sodom is a reminder for the future.
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