14th Sunday of the Year C (04 Jul 2010)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
For the Next Half
For Jesus a fundamental part of his way of redeeming all people and the world was his proclamation of God’s kingdom. Fundamental means at the core. For Jesus to announce God’s kingdom was centrally important. As Jesus told his disciples, it was why he had come.1 To those who wanted to be his disciples, Jesus made them sharers in his fundamental mission: go and proclaim the kingdom of God.2
Jesus first sent his apostles, the Twelve, to preach and heal without him.3 As Jesus began to journey to Jerusalem for the last time, he sent ahead messengers to prepare hospitality for him. Today we heard that Jesus sent 70 to preach and heal as well as to prepare for his arrival.
In the history of God with people, prophets had their helpers. Seventy was the number of helpers to whom Moses gave a share of his prophetic spirit; with it they helped Moses in his work with the people Israel. Luke’s good news portrayed Jesus as a prophet like Moses. Jesus continued to welcome disciples to help him, and he gave them a share in his power to preach and heal.
They were quick to report to Jesus that they were successful. Jesus had warned them that their preaching may not have been welcome: whatever town you enter and they do not receive you, go out into the streets and say, ‘The dust of your town that clings to our feet, even that we shake off against you.’ Yet know this: the kingdom of God is at hand. Rejection of their proclamation was—and is—always possible, yet announcing it is a disciple’s vocation.
The disciples reported their success, yet Jesus responded that greater than their successful ministering was that their names are written in heaven. Together with how Jesus concurred with them—I have observed Satan fall like lightning from the sky—our success at appreciating Jesus and his prophetic helpers is often scant. For the thought-world of Jesus and his disciples and our thought-world is as far as east from west at this juncture of the gospel.
Do we speak of spirits, demonic or divine? Do we think of conflicts in heaven? Do we imagine a heavenly book with our names in it? Are we able to think, speak and imagine in these ways? If we cannot think, speak and imagine in their ways, they lead us to a vexing question: Does Jesus want us to cease being the 21st-Century people we are?
Jesus wants us to be the people we are. Jesus does not desire we be literalists, any more than he wanted his contemporaries to be literalists. No matter one’s time and place, Jesus desires we be the people he created and redeemed. Trying to be other than ourselves is no way to be faithful.
Jesus’ faith—his human response to God—is the pattern of faithful living as Catholic disciples today as ever. Jesus’ Spirit replicates within us this pattern. Ours is to follow the pattern Jesus’ Spirit offers. How do we know we follow Jesus’ pattern? If our actions flow from desires to further life, unity, God’s justice, building up others and working against what diminishes individuals and communities, then we are flesh-and-blood icons of Jesus’ cross.
No more eloquent way to proclaim God’s kingdom exists. To allow those contours of Jesus’ way to his cross to mark our ways of thinking and to shape our ways of acting is to allow the rule of our Messiah to mark us as his disciples today and fashion each of us as a new creation for the life of our world. That is what St.Paul meant by his remark, I bear the marks of Jesus on my body.
In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week pause in the presence of our triune God. Ask the great throng of disciples of Jesus and his way—those past and present—to present you to Jesus. Thank Jesus for welcoming you to join him to announce God’s kingdom; ask Jesus for the grace of a steadfast spirit as well as a more lively share in his faith. Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. His words, lead us not into temptation, point beyond specific moments and help us embrace Jesus’ whole pattern of living with ready hearts and open minds as we begin the next half of 2010.
- Mark 1.38.
- Luke 9.60, which was part of last Sunday’s gospel at mass.
- Luke 9.1-2