Homily for 3 July 2022 by Fr. Kevin Walsh
Fourteenth Sunday of the Year
Is 66:10-14c, Psalm 66, Gal 6:14-1, Lk 10:1-12, 17-20
Jesus entrusting his mission to 70, pauses us in our time to consider a number of things. 70 is mentioned in Genesis and other books of the OT having to do with the number of tribes of Gentiles. In the NT it’s the number of those in the Sanhedrin. Simply saying there are other places where 70 gets mentioned and Jesus is drawing his listeners in as they make the connections. In doing my homework I was drawn to the remarks of the person who noted Jesus gives over his mission to imperfect people who will do an imperfect job of it – and on the one hand we smile and say thousands of years later it hasn’t changed – still imperfect people and an imperfect system – only we realize we’re the ones it’s all being entrusted to and somehow God doesn’t let our imperfections or our system’s imperfections prevent the good news from being carried and heard and the good gifts from being offered and received. The kingdom is at hand and we need not be overly impressed by any “power” we may exercise – let the rejoicing be in the relationship with the One who enables us to be gift bearers of the gifts we have received.
Peace is a much needed reality – only it’s not the ‘no ripples on the pond kind of peace – it’s the my faith is so deeply grounded in him who willingly died for me – that the wind and waves don’t distract me from fulfilling the work I’m being sent to do. So often I find myself saying to the postulants and novices we have to maintain our focus and avoid distractions.
Tavel unencumbered – this is so much more than you don’t need extra toothpaste. The baggage – physical, emotional, psychological or spiritual that is entangling you and holding you back from being the effective participant in building up the kingdom – name it and deal with it. You may only be able to express sorrow or regret but avoid allowing past mistakes to obstruct the work to be done in the present. Live in the present.
The incarnation is all about the unexpected. The little town of Bethlehem – Mary and Joseph’s baby – sacramental life is always about God using the familiar and ordinary to give us so much more. We continue to incarnate the divine love Jesus wishes us to spread around and before you can do that you have to notice what is being offered and by whom it is being offered, then traveling light, you let loose on the unsuspecting world this avalanche of goodness and grace – amazed to find that this is what everyone has been longing for but have become too jaded to dare to believe could really happen.
Can you live in the radical freedom that God offers believers and choose to give up griping and complaining that everything isn’t perfect to recognize Bethlehem is about God choosing to be with us in the imperfection to guide us forward. Jesus doesn’t send off 70 to the saved, but to sinners and strugglers and just plain messy folks with messy lives who would like to do better, be better and offer some help to the imperfect people they are sharing the planet with. And if we are doing our part in building up the kingdom we don’t look in the mirror being impressed with ourselves, we notice the opportunities to encourage, to forgive, to console, to assist and living the beatitudes, bring the kingdom of love into this time as God’s instruments.
Those being sent are numberless. The harvest is rich and those who can get unstuck from critiquing the grammar and punctuation of the narrative and follow Jesus’ example of service, bringing about in union with him what the gospel is telling us he so daringly entrusts to an imperfect mismatched community of believers, we get to do it!
With Paul we boast in the cross taking us through death into new life as people renewed by receiving the Eucharist and enlightened by receiving God’s Word. With centuries of other believers we carry forward in this season of grace what has been handed on to us as the Body of Christ, to be Christ’s presence in a struggling world, to offer what we are so privileged to have been given, the richness of God’s love.
This fourteenth Sunday of the year God gently reminds us to live in the dynamic of faith as best we can willing to know the imperfect who are willing to cooperate become the means for God to advance the kingdom Jesus has inaugurated.