To listen to today’s homily, please select the audio file below:
The section of St. Luke’s gospel, from chapter 9 to chapter 19, is called Luke’s journey narrative; it describes the journey Jesus makes from Galilee to Jerusalem where he will be “taken up.” We’re at the beginning of that journey in the gospel today as Jesus makes clearer to his disciples what our journey entails. The gospels read the last two previous Sundays, also from chapter 9, affirm that Jesus doesn’t make this journey alone; he invites others, “all,” to go with him. They are to bear their cross each day as they follow him.
Now, Jesus adds another dimension in our reading. The journey is also a harvest. Jesus gathers others to follow him and asks them to join him in the harvesting. In today’s gospel he sends out 72 disciples ahead of him, “to every town and place he intended to visit.” They are the first; more harvesters will follow. It’s an abundant harvest, Jesus says, and the laborers are few, so “ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for the harvest.”
In the meantime, though, “Go on your way. I am sending you as lambs among wolves,” Jesus says.
Lambs among wolves, with no money, no knapsack, no scandals. That’s how the harvesters are sent. And they aren’t sure of the welcome they’ll receive. What chance of success do they have with directions like that, you wonder?
But the seventy two disciples come back rejoicing at their success. Satan falls from the sky.
If we find following Jesus mysterious mysterious, so does his sending us out to harvest with him raises questions in us. It’s been that way from the beginning. The Prophet Jeremiah said he was too young when God called him to bring his word to others; Abraham likely thought he was too old. We think like they do. We’re not smart enough, or holy enough, we think. Our numbers are down; there are not enough of us. There’s no use to it. The world we live in isn’t ready for a harvest.
But God tells us, “Go on your way,” no matter how young or how old or how ready or prepared we are. “Go on your way.” The harvest that’s before us is as varied as the places and circumstances we find ourselves in. Each of us has a town and place to visit.
We have a mission, a harvest waiting for us. We have a mission. There’s something we have to do in this life that’s given to no one else.
We might think in big terms or very defined terms about our mission in life, but maybe it’s better to think as the 72 in our reading today must have done. It’s looks as if their mission was a day by day affair. Like the everyday cross, maybe our mission in life must be discovered everyday. The harvest is there, each day. Let’s think about it that way:
Let’s say to ourselves that each day is new unlike any other day
For God makes each day different.
Each day God’s everyday grace
Falls on my soul like abundant seed,
Though I may hardly see it.
Each day is one of those days
Jesus promised to be with me,
A companion on my journey.
And life each day has consequences unseen:
My life has a purpose.
“I have a mission…I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. God has not created me for naught…Therefore I will trust him. Whatever, wherever I am, I can never by thrown away. God does nothing in vain. He knows what he is about.” John Henry Newman.