To what, or whom, are we willing to commit?
By Sharon Priester
Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time/July 3
Isaiah 66:10-14c; Psalm 66:1-3,4-5,6-7,16,20; Galatians 6:14-18; Luke 10:1-12,17-20
Commitment. This word kept popping into my mind as I read and studied the readings this week. I asked myself, “What does it mean to be committed to something and what am I committed to?” Then I decided to ask a couple of other people what they were committed to in their life. What was important to them? At the top of their list was family — spouse, children, grandchildren — and being with them, protecting them from harm, providing for them.
Also important to them was their faith — prayer, reading and studying Scripture, participating in and sharing their faith, and sharing their love of God by caring for and serving others.
From the beginning of time, God has taken care of his people. An example of this is in the first reading. The Israelites, having returned to Jerusalem from their exile, are hearing the consoling words of the Lord. They have not been abandoned. He is with them. Just as a mother takes care of her infant, so will He take care of them, comfort them and help them to flourish. Their nation will experience God’s glory. For this nation, it is a time for rejoicing.
In the Gospel reading, Jesus, having already selected 12 men to be His apostles, now chooses 72 others to go out to prepare the way for Jesus to enter into the towns. Like the apostles, He chose them because of their commitment to the teachings of Jesus and their willingness to share this with others. They are instructed to take nothing with them and greet all people with “Peace to this household.” (Luke 10:5) Can you imagine going on a trip somewhere without anything else except the clothes on your back?
He also tells them that if they are welcomed, they should stay, eat with the people, cure the sick and proclaim the good news, “The Kingdom of God is at hand.” (Luke 10:9) If they are not welcomed, they are to dust off their feet and leave the town.
The 72, having gone out to a village and been successful, return rejoicing. Jesus shares in their joy, but warns them they should rejoice, not “because they think the spirits are subject to” them, but “ because their names are now written in heaven.”
ONE WITH CHRIST
In the second reading, Paul reminds his followers of what is most important. Certainly it is not whether or not a person is circumcised. It is that Jesus was crucified and raised up. There is a new creation. Jesus, in loving faithfulness to His Father, willingly gave His life for all mankind, making each person one with Christ.
Paul himself bore the marks of being beaten, flogged and stoned for being a follower. But instead of complaining and carrying on as if he was weighed down, he has committed to carrying his burdens with grace and sharing his faith in Christ with his words and actions. Now he is asking his followers to do the same.
How can we be more like the apostles, the 72 disciples or Paul? How can our commitment to our faith be enriched so that we too can share God’s love and mercy with others and bring “Peace to all households” (Luke 10:5)?
Let the words of Psalm 66 help us: “Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.”
SHARON PRIESTER has served as a parish catechist and director of religious education, Bible study leader, RCIA team member and coordinator, and regional director of religious education for the Diocese of Peoria. She is a member of Holy Trinity Parish in Bloomington.