Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 4, Luke 10: 1-9
When I read the Gospel for the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, the first thing that caught my eye was the number seventy-two. And I got to wondering if there was any special study about the various numbers used in Sacred Scripture. And indeed there is – enough probably to take up a lifetime of study just on the significance of numbers in Scripture. I was absolutely amazed at what I found. If you would care to poke around a bit with this topic, you can find it on the web at: www.agapebiblestudy.com, if you scroll around a bit. The topic is The Significance of Numbers in Scripture.
Our Gospel selection for this 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time is an interesting one. It speaks of the mission of the seventy-two disciples. My Commentary on the Scriptures points out that the ancient manuscripts of Sacred Scripture are evenly divided on whether the mission includes seventy or seventy-two disciples. Both numbers have a basis in the Old Testament. Seventy-two is a multiple (6) of Twelve, the number of tribes in Israel, and signifies the universalism of Jesus’ mission. Seventy is the number of elders (Exodus 24) who ascend the mountain with Moses and this would make the disciples representative of the Mosaic Tradition. Luke is the only evangelist who writes of Jesus commissioning a second group, the seventy-two. In Luke 9: 1-6, the Twelve are commissioned. Here there are some differences and some similarities. They are both to proclaim the Good News. The seventy-two are to travel in pairs and also are to cure diseases and expel demons. Both are to travel lightly and live off of the hospitality of the people to whom they are preaching. The seventy-two are to preach Jesus to the various towns and prepare the people for Jesus upcoming visit.
Many questions go unanswered about all of this. Were the Twelve part of the Seventy-two or a group independent from them? Were there women among them or only men? We do not know the answer to these questions.
What’s in all of this for us? We, too, are commissioned by Jesus to be his disciples – all of us! This happens in the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, Orders and Marriage. We are all to travel lightly and quickly, putting the mission of Jesus first and our own needs second. We have a huge job: to prepare the world for Jesus’ coming into the hearts of all! No small job, but if each does their part in their corner of the world, we will eventually succeed. What a glorious day that will be.
Monday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time
July 5, Mt. 9: 18-26
Today’s Gospel selection from St. Matthew sandwiches two different healings by Jesus. It begins with an official approaching Jesus and asking him to raise his daughter who has just died back to life. This is then interspersed by a woman suffering from hemorrhages trying to touch the cloak of Jesus and thereby be cured of her affliction. After Jesus cares for her and heals her malady, he raises the official’s daughter from the dead.
Both of these miracles focus on the faith of those seeking healing. Notice once again, please, that Jesus is the Healer; the official’s daughter and the woman are the healees. We have said pretty much the same thing many times about Jesus being the Changer and we the changees when changes do take place in our lives. And isn’t healing a change of sorts?
All of us are ill and in need of healing – or if we are not so at the present time, we will be in the future. Count on it! We pray for healing in the manner of the man in the Gospel who said to Jesus: “If you will it, you can make me whole.” And then we accept what comes our way whatever that might be. It’s OK to pray for Jesus to take the malady away, to heal us from our various infirmities. But it is our part to accept these things if he chooses not to heal them as we wish. We must always remember that God has good reasons for all he does. We might not know the reasons or understand them, but that doesn’t mean they are not there.
O Lord, Thy will be done.
Tuesday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time
July 6, Mt. 9: 32-38
Today’s Gospel narration begins with a brief story about a man who was mute and possessed by a demon. Jesus drove the demon out of the man and the man began to speak. It was common for the people of Jesus’ time to believe that the inability to speak was caused by a demon. And this was not necessarily true. Our illnesses and afflictions do not come as a result of our being sinners. God is a loving God, not a God of vengeance and “I’ll get you for that.”
Nature is not always perfect. This is quite obvious, and from this comes illness and disease. God, of course, knows this or that is happening to you or me, but we must remember that his knowledge is not causative. Just because God knows something does not mean that he caused it. I hear God being blamed for all kinds of things and this kind of riles me a bit. God is our infinite Lover who cannot not love. Many would be better off if they understood this.
Wednesday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time
July 7, Mt. 10: 1-7
Today’s Gospel selection lists the names of the Twelve Apostles “sent” by Jesus to proclaim his message to the world. We, of course, are included in the warnings, protection, rewards, and various conditions of this discipleship. There are slight variations in the lists of the Apostles given in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. Very little is really known about any of them. Simon Peter is always the first name given in these lists and Judas Iscariot is always the last.
In general we may safely say that all of them played a huge part in the Gospels. For the most part they were simple, hardworking fishermen. They were simple people dedicated to their ways. I don’t read where any of them were rich; just the average working persons striving for a little happiness and well-being in this life. This description is also true of the disciples of Jesus we find today. Jesus takes us, rough edges and all, and smoothes us down, prunes us, for good disciples of his message.
Thank you, Lord, for your baptismal commission to bring your message to the world.
Thursday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time
July 8, Mt. 10: 7-15
The Gospel to be read for today’s Liturgy gives us more about discipleship. The duties of discipleship take on a more practical bent in this Gospel. Jesus’ disciples are to be healers just as Jesus was. They heal by bringing hope and joy to those suffering from illnesses and persecutions. The disciple of Jesus is vulnerable, without money, without all kinds of clothes, shoes, or even a walking stick. The true disciple is totally dependant on the providence of God. If people reject them, they are to quietly and peacefully walk away.
We learn from all of this, as we have said many times before, that being a disciple of Jesus is not a walk in the park on a sunny, cool day. It is work and demands much change on the part of the individual disciple.
How would I rate myself as a disciple of the Lord on a scale of 1-10?
Friday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time
July 9, Mt. 10: 16-23
Today’s Gospel extends yesterday’s message to focus more on the difficulties and pains of discipleship. We are aware of the dangers and hardships suffered by our missionaries and we pray for them and their work. One of the pains listed that many disciples suffer today and that is very difficult to bear is found in the Gospel for today. We read: “Brother will hand over brother to death, and the father his child; children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by all in my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved.” All too often we see the issue of religion fracture families, and our hearts go our to these people. I, for one, have no idea just how much pain this situation entails.
So, discipleship, while noble and beautiful, is not always easy and pleasant. Let’s all remember to pray today for those who pay a price to follow the Gospel and do not have as easy a time as most. They are certainly a great example for all of us.
Saturday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time
July 10, Mt. 10: 24-33
Today’s Gospel for Saturday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time kind of winds up the practical aspects of discipleship we have been discussing all this week. Today’s Gospel points out the love and care of Jesus for all his disciples. We are worth a great deal to Jesus and he will always be there for us in our needs. We can count on this. Things might get a little rough every now and then but through it all the disciple has what all are truly longing for: peace of mind in knowing that we are on the right road. It is a great reward to know that Jesus is really our way, truth and life and that we really have nothing to fear.
Jesus, I have tried to be your disciple now for many years and I have no regrets for this choice. As the saying goes: It has been a great ride!