Date: July 7, 2013,
Seventh Sunday after Pentecost
Isaiah 66:10-14; Psalm 66:1-7; Galatians 6:1-10, 14-18; Luke 10:1-20
Notes: Ordinary Time consists of those Sundays in
the Church year that are not festival Sundays (Christmas, Easter) or
part of special seasons (Advent, Lent). Ordinary time began in the
season of Epiphany this year, lasting three Sundays prior to
Transfiguration Sunday and then the beginning of Lent. Now we begin
Ordinary Time again during the season of Pentecost. Ordinary Time
readings focus on Christ in the life of the Church. The readings are
no longer necessarily as tightly bound together as they were in
Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter. The Gospel and the Old
Testament are linked together, but the Epistle reading is now used to
read through contiguous blocks of Scripture.
Isaiah 66:10-14: In the
final chapter of Isaiah there is the promise of peace for God’s
battered and bruised people. We are not to feel pity for those that
the Lord has admonished, because they deserved the judgment meted out
to them. But we are to rejoice to the remnant that will be
preserved, because to the faithful of that remnant, peace will come.
Those who mourn over Jerusalem’s fall are called to rejoice with her
restoration. From the restored people of God will come nourishment
and comfort for all people. The people who were formerly disgraced
through exile will be exalted and receive the glory of all the
nations on earth. The people of God will not merely be the object of
the Lord’s delight, but the instrument through which the world is
nursed to health and comforted. God will punish his enemies, but his
people will find peace.
Psalm 66:1-7: A
call to worship and glorification of the Lord! All the earth is to
praise God and exalt his name, specifically for the mighty deeds that
He works in his creation, and specifically towards his people. The
power of God is such that none can withstand it – all enemies must
acknowledge their inferiority before him. As such, it is right for
all creation to worship. Verse five calls the earth to examine what
the Lord has done that is so worthy of praise, and verse six explains
what that is – God has rescued his people. The words hearken back
to the Exodus of God’s people from slavery in Egypt, and more
specifically their rescue from the pursuing army of the Pharaoh by
crossing over the sea that had been made dry for them. The psalm
elicits praise of God for a very particular deed, the central deed of
the Old Testament. As we praise God, we ought to be specific. What
has God done in our lives? What mighty works have we witnessed and
attributed to him? Praising him for specific things reinforces in us
that our story is wrapped up in the Biblical story as well. The God
who saved his people thousands of years ago continues to act on
behalf of his people today – you and I.
Galatians 6:1-10, 14-18:
If Christians are not to be governed by the law, then what should
be at work in their lives? Doing good to one another. Rather than
standing in accusatory postures towards one another, shaking fingers
when someone falters under their particular burden, the Christian
community should be known as a place where people are supported and
encouraged, where burdens are shared. This is actually the only law
of Christ – to love one another. If we love one another (as God
defines love) then we are demonstrating love for God. If we cannot
or will not love one another, then we are not loving God, regardless
of what we tell ourselves (or others).
spirit of generosity should mark the Christian life and community.
Rather than only seeking our own good, we are to be generous to
others as they share the blessings of God with us. Verse 10 exhorts
us especially to be loving and good to others of the faith. Not only
to fellow Christians, but especially so.
Ultimately though, what matters is not what we do. We do not boast
in ourselves, whether we boast based on our love of others or on our
fulfillment of the law. The only reason we have to boast is Jesus
Christ. He alone is the one of whom we can boast.
As Jesus begins his final march towards Jerusalem, he strategically
sends out his followers to go ahead of him, preaching the Word of God
in as many places as possible. They are sent out in pairs, so that
they might be an encouragement to one another without be intimidating
to the people they go to. They are to trust entirely on the Lord’s
provision for this journey. No money, no extra clothes or other
belongings. The Lord will provide them what they need. The Holy
Spirit will guide them to those who will provide for their needs
while they are in a certain town. They are not to hop around,
looking for the best accommodations (perhaps?), but rather to stay in
one home and receive their necessities from that household. If a
town accepts them, they should preach the word and allow the Holy
Spirit to heal the sick through them. If a town rejects them, they
are not to trouble themselves about it, but rather to bear witness to
the people of that town that they have placed themselves in jeopardy.
Jesus laments for the places that will not receive his followers and
his word. He knows that such closed-mindedness will lead to great
suffering on the part of those people. Even outsiders will fare
better on the judgment day than God’s own people who have rejected
his Word and his servants.
The disciples are understandably elated when they return. They have
experienced the power of God flowing through them – even in ways
that Jesus did not explicitly command, such as the casting out of
demons. Jesus assures them that the special authority He equipped
them with ensured that no servant of Satan could harm them. This is
not a general statement about all Christians, that we are immune to
the machinations of evil in this world, but rather a specific,
temporary state of affairs for these 72.
Jesus recalls their attention to what really matters, though. It is
not the amazing power of healing or casting out demons that matters.
What matters is that by faith in him, their names are written in
heaven. Spectacular events may come and go, but the most humble and
unnoticeable Christian shares an equal reward with even the most
powerful of Apostles. What matters is that we place our faith in
Jesus Christ, trusting him to lead us through our daily work –
whatever that may entail.
So it is that the people of God, the followers of Jesus Christ and in
this specific case the seventy-two, are to be a source of blessing
and healing and peace to the people they are sent to. The prophecy
of Isaiah 66 is being fulfilled through Jesus and his followers.
What should the response be then? To rejoice! To celebrate that the
Kingdom of God is at hand and is blessing people.
Today, just as in Jesus’ day, we cannot control how the Word of God
will be received. We are called to place each day faithfully in
Jesus’ hand. If He commissions us to go and preach the Word, we do
so, knowing that He will be with us. If we are led to our vocation
as spouse or employee or neighbor, we do so diligently and lovingly,
sharing the love of God with all those who cross our path. We are to
be a blessing to all of God’s creation, a continuation not just of
the prophetic words of Isaiah, but our Lord’s original instructions
to humanity in Genesis and through Abraham, that through us, all the
earth might be blessed! (Genesis 12:3)