Isaiah 66: 10 – 14;
Galatians 6: 14 – 18;
Luke 10: 1 – 12, 17 – 20
Last week we saw in Luke’s Gospel people coming to join Jesus. This week we see Jesus sending
them off two by two on a mission as “advance men.” Curious that what we see politicians do
today is what Jesus wisely did two thousand years ago. He sent disciples ahead of him to
announce the Good News; he will not be far behind. Two by two affords some protection on the
dangerous, ancient roads; it was also Jewish custom to believe testimony based on the witness of
“Sending” has been the story of Christianity from the beginning. Jesus was sent by the Father.
Disciples were sent forth by Jesus in today’s Gospel. Jesus’ instructions are not detailed on what
they are to say. Instructions on how they are to conduct themselves are more detailed than what
they are to say. They are to travel light – they are not vacationers. They are not to lose time with
lengthy, oriental greetings. They are not to upgrade their lodging. In a word, they are to be single-
We stand in this same tradition. This was actually the beginning of Christian “tradition,” literally
“handing on.” In our day we are in the midst of change in the process of handing on the story of
Jesus. As the number of priests, brothers, and sisters, who have been the professional “handers
on,” diminishes, it is the laity who are playing an increasing role as the second Vatican Council
urged. The role of the laity in celebrating the Eucharist has passed from being observers to being
active participants: lectors, Eucharistic ministers, ministers of hospitality, and ministers of music.
The focus of teaching both in the parish as catechists and RCIA team members and in the home is
I think it is helpful for us, as individuals, to identify those who have been the best in handing on
“the faith” to us. Most of us seem able to identify those with whom we have experienced
interpersonal contact, “Ah-hah” moments in our faith development. We need to ask ourselves
what we have to pass on and discern how best we, now as disciples, can pass on what is our best.
Today, I would like to focus on one line in the Gospel that may not immediately catch our
attention: “The seventy returned with joy…” There is joy in being disciples, a joy that is strong
In the first reading, Isaiah announces the good news to the returned Babylonian exiles that the
ruined and desolate Jerusalem will take care of them “as a mother comforts her baby son.” Isiah
assures the returned Jews that they will live in the certainty of Yahweh’s promises of love,
protection, prosperity, and salvation. In today’s second reading, Paul removes the confusion
created by the Judaizers in the minds of the new Gentile Christians of Galatia. He clearly conveys
the good news that it is Jesus’ death on the cross which brings one’s salvation and not Jewish
heritage or practice of Torah laws. Paul reminds us that the mission of each member of the Church
is to bear witness to the saving power of the cross of Christ through a life of sacrificial, self-giving
Saint Paul tells us today about a spiritual gift that he received from God. This gift is called the
“stigmata”, which refers to Jesus’ wounds from the Crucifixion. Very few saints have received
this gift: among those who have are St. Francis of Assisi and St. Padre Pio.
But in case we’re tempted to think of the stigmata as mere scars, we ought to realize that St. Paul
bore, in addition to the open wounds of Jesus’ crucifixion, the physical pain of those wounds.
To understand what it means for a person to bear the stigmata, it’s helpful to hear St. Paul
declare, “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the
world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” The stigmata, including its pain and
disfigurement, sharply distinguish the world from the person who bears these marks.
A few weeks ago the Church celebrated Pentecost. From the Upper Room in Jerusalem, the
Church has grown to the ends of the earth and through the course of twenty centuries. The life of
the Church stands in contrast to “the world” of which St. Paul speaks.
The Christian believer is caught between the Church and the world. The “catch” stems from the
fact that fallen human nature is powerful in its “fallen-ness”. Try to imagine, if you can, someone
who has the five marks of the stigmata on his own body, but doesn’t even notice them. That’s
pretty hard to imagine. We might be able to imagine someone who is absent-minded not noticing
someone next to him bearing the stigmata, but it’s nearly impossible to imagine that someone who
bears those wounds does not notice them.
Since you and I are not likely to be given the marks of the stigmata, we might think it a waste of
time to speculate about such matters. But bring the subject closer to home: if you do not have to
deal with the stigmata, what about the wounds caused by your sins?
Personal sins may not often cause physical wounds, but they do often cause wounds of other
types. These wounds often go either unnoticed by us, or are ignored. Perhaps this is because the
pain of these wounds seems greater if we acknowledge it. Perhaps it’s because acknowledging
the pain would imply the need for some sort of action on our part. We easily look past our sins
and their effects on our selves and others.
All this is to say that in dealing with the wounds that mark our souls, we have a radical choice to
make. Each of us has to decide by what means to deal with these wounds, if at all. St. Paul
suggests that we deal with these wounds through the power of Christ’s Cross.
What does St. Paul mean when he claims that through “the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ… the
world has been crucified to me, and I to the world”? Consider the explanation of “The Way of
the Cross” offered by the 20 th century Carmelite friar, Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, OCD
in his work titled Divine Intimacy:
“We must be thoroughly convinced that if the Holy Spirit works in our souls to [conform] us to
Christ, He can do so only by opening to us the way of the Cross. Jesus is Jesus crucified;
therefore, there can be no conformity to Him except by the Cross, and we shall never enter into
the depths of the spiritual life except by entering into the mystery of the Cross. St. Teresa of
[Avila] teaches that even the highest… graces are given to souls only in order to enable them to
carry the Cross. ‘His Majesty,’ says [Teresa], ‘can do nothing greater for us than to grant us a life
which is an imitation of that lived by His beloved Son. I feel certain, therefore, that… favors are
given to us to strengthen our weakness, so that we may be able to imitate Him in His great
sufferings’ [Interior Castle VII, 4].”
This coming week, say your daily prayers kneeling in front of a crucifix. If because of health
you’re unable to kneel, place a picture of the Crucifixion before you, and look at this image of
Jesus dying for you on the Cross as you offer all your prayers through the power of the Cross.
As Jesus sent his apostles with his power of teaching, preaching and healing he sends us today
equipped well with his power, to accomplish the same ministry. We also hear him telling us to be
The words of a non-Christian, Rabindranath Tagore speaks to this:
“I slept and dreamt life was a joy.
I awoke and saw life was service.
I acted and behold service is joy.”
“The seventy returned with joy…” We are each called to a life of discipleship. The “tradition,” the
“handing on” of what Jesus taught and what Jesus did needs to be passed on. How I do that is the
question the Gospel asks us this day.