|by Angela Lambert|
Pope Francis welcomes a group of Syrian refugees after landing at Ciampino airport in Rome following a visit at the Moria refugee camp in the Greek island of Lesbos, April 16. Filippo Monteforte / Pool via Reuters
July 3rd, 2016; 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Gospel of Luke 10:1-12, 17-20 NAB
At that time the Lord appointed seventy-two others whom he sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit. He said to them, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest. Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals;
and greet no one along the way. Into whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this household.’ If a peaceful person lives there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you. Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you, for the laborer deserves his payment. Do not move about from one house to another. Whatever town you enter and they welcome you, eat what is set before you, cure the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God is at hand for you.’ 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. I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom on that day than for that town.”
The seventy-two returned rejoicing, and said, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name.” Jesus said, “I have observed Satan fall like lightning from the sky. Behold, I have given you the power to ‘tread upon serpents’ and scorpions and upon the full force of the enemy and nothing will harm you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you,
but rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”
Jesus desires personal relationship with each human person. At the same time, no man is an island, and therefore Jesus encounters persons within the context of their lives. Our experiences and choices, together with our relationships with others, form the framework through which we receive and respond to Christ.
Our personal encounter with Christ may begin with a personally appointed disciple of His, sent ahead of Him. For some, a certain preparation may be needed before Christ’s visit will be fruitful. Someone whose heart is hardened toward God by experiences of pain or falsehood may need their demons cast out so Christ can fully enter. In some cases, this happens in a literal way through the name of Jesus and the authority granted by Him. In other cases, it happens in a more analogous way through the softening of a heart by the experience of Christian love, the opening of a mind through seeds of truth, or the reception of mercy in a time of need. An otherwise weak soul, may find the courage to say yes to Christ after being inspired by the bravery of another. A proud soul may see the beauty of meekness through the gentle joy of colleague. Our perception of God can be obscured by our experiences in life – either of prosperity or pain – but it can also be clarified by our experiences in life, especially through encounters with other Christians.
Christ call us to proclaim the kingdom of God to others and He equips us with the supernatural power and grace to do so. The good news of the Lord’s presence and mercy is proclaimed through a myriad of ways and tailored to the individuals who will receive it. God may call you to witness through your example, through your choices, through works of mercy, through your patience and kindness, through your prayers and sacrifices, or through words of teaching, encouragement, conviction, or comfort. Conversions continue to take place even in surprising places. Peter Leithart, writer for First Things magazine, reports in his article “Islamicization of Europe or Christianization of Islam?”, that many Muslim refugees migrating into Europe from Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and central Asia have been converting to Christianity and requesting baptism by the droves. The article cites a variety of reasons for this phenomena but ultimately individuals in need have encountered Christ through the Christians who have aided them which sparked openness to Christianity and a desire for Christ.
The kingdom of God, which is none other than union with God, begins here on earth at the crucial crossroads of the human will. The seventy-two sent out by Christ recounted their exhilaration at being able to cast out demons. The devil seems oppressively powerful, yet at the simple name of Jesus, he is conquered. Unfortunately, a simple “no” by the human will can shut Jesus out. Relationship requires the reciprocal good will of two people. Christ loves us, but if we do not love Him in return there can be no friendship. As Christian disciples, we must pray to be His missionaries laboring in His harvest and take care to not turn others away by their encounter with us. We should also not become discouraged if even after great feats people in our lives still reject God. Ultimately, that is between them and God. The stakes are high – heaven! – so let’s pray that we can open hearts to receive the Lord for all of eternity.
- Consider how Christ has sent messengers ahead of Him to you.
- Who brought to you His truth, sacraments, love, or compassion?
- How did it increase your faith or clarify your understanding of Christ?
- Consider how you are a messenger of Christ – to your family, your colleagues, your neighbors, and your friends.
- In what ways to you demonstrate Christ’s love and truth to them?
- In what ways could you improve your Christian witness?
- Reflect on your receptivity. How open are you to the Word of God in Scripture, through His Church, through others? What hinders you and what helps you?
- Reflect on Christian evangelization occurring in Europe by reading Peter Leithart’s article:First Things. “Islamicization of Europe or Christianization of Islam?”
Make a Resolution (Practical Application):
- Each day prayerfully and intentionally decide on one person with whom you will share Christ. Prayerfully decide how and when you will do it. (e.g. saying a kind word to someone who annoys you at work, praying with your children together before bed, doing something loving toward your spouse, forgiving someone in need of mercy, etc.)
- Reach out to someone who has been instrumental in your own conversion and thank him or her. It could be as simple as an email, text, hand-written note, or phone call.
~ Written by Angela Lambert © 2016
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