Heralds of the Gospel

 

            Last week’s Gospel began the central vehicle of the Gospel of Luke, Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem.  As I mentioned last weekend, this section of the Gospel of Luke presents the journey of Jesus to his passion, death and resurrection as a prototype of the journey of all Christians with the Lord to fulfill the will of the Father.  We saw last week that nothing could stop the Lord from his journey.  He set his face like flint.  Those who would not follow Him, the Samaritans who rejected James and John’s announcement that Jesus was coming, the men who wanted to put off following Jesus, these  would be left behind in their misery. 

 

            Today’s Gospel is the next section of the journey in Luke.  It is very positive.  Jesus sends seventy disciples to announce the coming of God’s Kingdom.  They returned laughing and shouting and full of joy.  They saw God’s power working through them.  Jesus himself is beside himself with joy. “I have watched Satan fall from the sky like lightning,” He says,  The new order, the new world, was beginning.

 

            Let’s look a little closer at the seventy.  First of all, you might say, “My missallette says, seventy-two, not seventy.” Actually, some translations of the Bible put the number as seventy, some others as seventy-two. 

 

            The Catholic editions of the Bible see a significance  in the number being seventy.  Why?  Seventy was also the number of men that composed the ruling Jewish council in Jesus’ day, the Sanhedrin.  In the Book of Genesis seventy descendants of Jacob moved with him from Israel to Egypt to begin a new life.  In the Book of Exodus, seventy elders go up the Mountain of God along with Moses to learn about the new covenant with YHWH.  Jesus appears to have chosen seventy, over and above the twelve, as a sign that something new was taking place.  A new group of people were being formed who would share in this power.  “Look what I have done,” Jesus says from throne in Revelations 21:5, “I have made all things new.”

 

            And this is where we come in.  Christ sends us all out into our worlds.  He gives us the power to conquer the forces of evil, to  stomp on snakes.  He gives us the power to announce his presence with our lives.  We are not just members of an organization.  We are not just followers of Jesus.  We are the heralds of his Kingdom bringing his presence to others.

 

            We are heralds of God’s Kingdom and conquers of evil when in our jobs we make moral, Christian decisions.  I have often heard many of you tell me that the workplace is a jungle.  Be a Christian in the jungle.  Refrain from throwing darts at others.  If we do this, and I include myself and all priests who dabble in a deranged desire for power, we might be embarrassed to realize that one of the reasons for our concern about how well he and she is doing their jobs is that we might want their position for ourselves.  That’s the way of the world, the way of the jungle, but not the way of Christ.  Be a herald of the Gospel that says “treat others with fairness and respect as you also wish to be treated.” This is a new way of being in the world, different than the norm of operation.    Others will eventually recognize your sincerity.  You may never realize this, but by being a good Christian person in the business world you are providing others with an experience of Christ.

 

            We are heralds of the Kingdom in our own homes when we continue to work hard on treating each other with profound respect.  Husbands and wives need to recognize each other as people made in the image of God.  Yes, there are many blemishes.  There are many rough spots.  Don’t let the grey areas blind you to the beauty of the person you gave your life to in marriage.  Husbands and wives approach God through each other.  Don’t fall into the habit of saying negative things about you spouse to others.  Treat your spouse with respect and others will experience the Kingdom in your marriage.  Many young couples pick the reading “You are the Light of the world,” for their wedding gospel.  Your marriages are not just for yourselves.  You were given this vocation to give witness to the world that Christ can and does live in the sacrament of matrimony.

 

            We often speak about the obligation that children have to respect and honor their parents, the fourth commandment.  Sometimes, we might not be precise or concrete.  Don’t let your children get away with “sassing back”.  It is your job as a parent to teach your children to respect others in authority beginning with the way your children speak to you and to your wife or husband.  At the same time, treat your children with profound respect.  When they get you upset, give yourself a cooling off time so your response can be constructive.  Never belittle your children.  A passing comment, like “I don’t expect you to be as good as your brother,” can destroy a child’s self-worth.  Don’t say negative things about your children to others.  It is difficult being  good parents.  You may have many rough areas that you are working on with your children  in your homes.  But outside the doors of your homes, when speaking with others, say nothing but good things about your children.  Your children will experience the respect their parents have for them.  They will have a clearer view of your love when they hear you saying to your neighbor, or your relatives, “She or he is really such a good child.”  This is just one of the many ways through which you can be heralds of God’s Kingdom for your own children.

 

            We should also remember that we have been called to be heralds of the Kingdom in our nation.  Our Founding Fathers believed in the presence of God’s hand forming us into a country where the dignity of all would be respected.  We are still learning how to be this nation.  It took our nation a hundred years to recognize that slavery opposed the very essence of its existence.  How could we be a land of the free if people owned other people?  We are only recently passing laws to ensure the dignity of those who are physically or mentally challenged.  We are only recently becoming concerned on a national level with the growing

number of the homeless.  A country’s greatness is seen in the way it treats its poorest members.  When we Christians are active in reaching out to others, in fighting for the rights of all in our nation, then we are bringing a new way into our world.  We are being heralds of the Gospel.

 

            Jesus picked seventy.  He sent them out to bring his power to the world.  Everyone here, everyone who calls himself or herself a Christian, are part of the seventy.  Wherever we go, whatever we do, we have the ability and the responsibility to proclaim the power and the presence of Christ.

 

            May we all be heralds of the Gospel.