September 25, 2013
Today’s gospel: Luke 9:1-6
Jesus empowered the apostles to proclaim the good news. Jesus “gave them power …. to proclaim the kingdom of God” (Lk 9:1-2). They were empowered to be witnesses. They were witnesses of Jesus (sent by him) and were witnesses to Jesus (to proclaim what he had done for them). As such, everything is about Jesus.
Jesus is the one who conquered Satan and evil and sin. “He summoned the Twelve and gave them power and authority over all demons” (Lk 9:1a). What Jesus did, he sends his disciples to do as well. They would engage in spiritual warfare, in which they were already victorious.
Jesus is the one who proclaimed the coming of the Kingdom of God when he started his public ministry, and is the one who, through his saving work, brings everyone back to the Kingdom. Jesus “sent them to proclaim the kingdom of God” (Lk 9:2a). We too as his disciples are sent to witness not only to Jesus but to what faith in Jesus naturally brings, that is, entry into the Kingdom. It is about a whole new way of life that reflects the purity and holiness and fullness that is fitting to the Kingdom of God.
Jesus is the one who heals, who brings wholeness and restoration to what God originally intended for His creatures. Sin results in degradation, in debasing, in experiencing the negative effects of being outside the embrace of God. Thus the world in darkness experiences poverty, war, and every type of disease and illness, with moral depravity today resulting in such serious incurable diseases as HIV/AIDS and resistant STDs. This is apart from the emotional illnesses that cause depression, poverty of spirit and even suicide. So Jesus gave his disciples power “to cure diseases” and sent them “to heal the sick.” (Lk 9:1b,2b). We too are empowered to help bring people back to the plan of God, and thus to spiritual and emotional well-being.
Jesus is the one who came poor but provided the riches of the Kingdom. He came in weakness but was all-powerful. He came as servant but was King. He was severely maltreated but had a legion of angels at his command. So Jesus sends us in the same way. We are not to go as grand princes or regal ambassadors, but as servants. We often will seem to lack in everything needed for mission, such as money and time and other resources, but it is precisely to keep our singular focus on Jesus that we are so. Otherwise we will end up trusting in our own capabilities, becoming arrogant and self-sufficient in the process. Thus Jesus says to us, “Take nothing for your journey” (Lk 9:3a). We need to be absolutely detached in order to be completely attached only to Jesus.
* “neither walking stick” — only Jesus is our support and strength.
* “nor sack” — only Jesus is our provision. In him we have everything that we need. We do not have to carry baggage that is of the world.
* “nor food” — only Jesus sustains us physically and nourishes us. He often will provide miraculously, as in the desert with the Israelites. He will touch people who will offer their homes and resources. “Whatever house you enter, stay there and leave from there.” (Lk 9:4). It is the privilege of these people to host a missionary, thereby hosting Jesus himself.
* “nor money” — if we act accordingly to how Jesus wants us to act, then he will provide the finances needed for mission. He owns everything, and is just looking for those human instruments he can use.
* “let no one take a second tunic” — we need only be clothed in righteousness and faithfulness.
Empowerment does not mean “success” in the way the world understands the term. We will not always make converts. We will even be rejected. But our concern is to proclaim the gospel, to give every person the opportunity to hear the good news. Then they decide whether to accept or not. If they do not, then “as for those who do not welcome you, when you leave that town, shake the dust from your feet in testimony against them.” (Lk 9:5). Those who reject the gospel will reap the dire consequences. Even the dust of that home or that town will not be worthy to be in your sandal as you go on with your mission. Disassociate with them and move on. There is much more work waiting to be done.
“Then they set out and went from village to village proclaiming the good news and curing diseases everywhere.” (Lk 9:6). They systematically went from place to place, to cover every territory. They went everywhere, even to the ends of the earth. For us in LCSC, we are to try to reach everyone in our parish (or workplace), especially those who are lapsed and lost. We go to the very grassroots.
God bless you.
“For to me life is Christ, and death is gain.” (Phil 1:21)