The Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them out ahead of him, in pairs, to all the towns and places he himself was to visit. He said to them, ‘The harvest is rich but the labourers are few, so ask the Lord of the harvest to send labourers to his harvest. Start off now, but remember, I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Carry no purse, no haversack, no sandals. Salute no one on the road.
‘Whatever house you go into, let your first words be, “Peace to this house!” And if a man of peace lives there, your peace will go and rest on him; if not, it will come back to you. Stay in the same house, taking what food and drink they have to offer, for the labourer deserves his wages; do not move from house to house.
‘Whenever you go into a town where they make you welcome, eat what is set before you. Cure those in it who are sick, and say, “The kingdom of God is very near to you.” But whenever you enter a town and they do not make you welcome, go out into its streets and say, “We wipe off the very dust of your town that clings to our feet, and leave it with you. Yet be sure of this: the kingdom of God is very near.” I tell you, on that day it will not go as hard with Sodom as with that town.’
The seventy-two came back rejoicing. ‘Lord,’ they said ‘even the devils submit to us when we use your name.’ He said to them, ‘I watched Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Yes, I have given you power to tread underfoot serpents and scorpions and the whole strength of the enemy; nothing shall ever hurt you. Yet do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you; rejoice rather that your names are written in heaven.’
Gospel for 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time
No-one is ever far from the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom is very close to those ‘in tune’ with the Kingdom and those ‘out of tune’ with it.
Time and again in the Gospels we see the disciples losing the ‘tune’ and being helped back to it. In this passage it is their task to help others ‘tune in’.
The Lord gives them confidence by arming them with a greeting and prayer that is both for their benefit and those they come to spend time with – Peace, Shalom, ܫܠܡܐ (shlamaa)
- With whom do you share peace?
- With what strangers do you share peace and how?
- And if someone asked you meant by ‘the kingdom of God is very near’, what would you say?
Missionary Collection box. Photograph (c) 2017, Allen Morris