Feast of St. Luke

[Scripture Readings: 2 Tim 4:9-17a; Lk 10:1-9]

When Jesus sent out the seventy-two disciples, he could have sent them one by one. The harvest was abundant and they would have covered more ground that way. Rather, in his wisdom, Jesus sent them out two by two. We can see in these pairs of disciples a symbol of the communal nature of our faith. We are meant to journey to God together. When the going gets tough, these is strength and safety in numbers. But more importantly, as Michael Casey writes in Fully Human, Fully Divine, “Community corrects individual defects; what one lacks another supplies, what one breaks another repairs, when we fall there is someone to lift us up” (p.35).

In our first reading we see the benefit of mutual support during difficult times. While instructing Timothy, Paul can vent and lament about those who have deserted and harmed him. Paul can also count on Timothy for such practical matters as retrieving those items he left behind in Troas. And then there is Luke, our saint of the day, who was the only one who remained with Paul.

But even if those closest to us should abandon us, we will always have Christ, who stood by Paul and gave him strength. Today we can ask ourselves two questions. Do I recognize and am I grateful for the persons God has placed in my life to support me? How can I support those closest to me this day in their journey of faith?

May what we receive in this sacrament strengthen us and may Christ bring us all to everlasting life.

Feast of St. Luke

[Scripture Readings: 2 Tim 4: 9-17a; Lk 10: 1-9 ]

There was a time in the not too distant past, when I think most Catholics would have understood their personal message in this morning’s gospel as a call to pray for missionaries and those with a special vocation to preach. Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI have made it clear that we are all called not only to prayer, but also to direct participation in the Church’s mission of evangelization. Our specific roles differ, nevertheless we all have a responsibility to prepare a way for Christ. The harvest is still great and the laborers are still too few.

How then are we to understand Jesus’ instructions to the seventy-two disciples today? While there is violent persecution of Christians in some parts of the world, the situation we face seems to be more one of religious indifference on a wide scale. It is not that people are antagonistic to the gospel; but more and more people are simply rolling over and going back to sleep on Sunday mornings. No matter what we might say, a contemporary reply is: “That’s your opinion. I have different preferences.” When objective truth is discounted or denied, our words are neutralized before we say them.

Frustrating as this is, Jesus’ instructions are to accept whatever situation we find ourselves in as it is, and rely on God for support and guidance. In his first letter St. Peter advised his hearers to always be ready to give an answer to those who asked the reason for their hope. That is good advice for us too. It is next to impossible to answer a question that isn’t being asked, but we should be ready with an answer when the question is asked. There are indications that underneath the seeming religious indifference that is so prevalent in our society, many people have a nagging sense that there should be more to life than the superficial satisfactions that are being offered by our consumer culture. Whatever our life situation, we can put the gospel into practice in our daily lives with faith and hope. That will put a question into the minds of some of our contemporaries, and for those who carry the question further and ask it, we need to be ready with an answer.

We can and should treat everyone with respect and extend our peace to them. If they choose not to return our respect or accept our peace, that is their responsibility. We have done our part and that is all that God asks of us. Whether in words or in behavior God calls us to announce that the kingdom of God is near. We should make it our concern that our words and behavior are doing that to the best of our ability, and respect the freedom of others to accept or reject our witness. In this morning’s first reading St. Paul gives us an example of how to accept disappointment and opposition in our service of the gospel and leave the consequences of others’ behavior to God. With gratitude to God for allowing us to share in announcing his good news revealed in Jesus Christ, let us look to the Holy Spirit for guidance and fulfill our responsibilities with faith and hope.

Feast of St. Luke

[Scripture Readings: 2Tim. 4: 9-17a; Lk. 10: 1-9]

The Church’s roster of saints provides us with a wide spectrum of men and women who have responded to God’s call to holiness and service in situations that extend through time and across cultures. They call us to imitate what they accomplished in their times and situations in our particular time and situations. At first glance the apostles and evangelists seem to be an exception to this, since their roll in the life of the Church’s is unique. They received a special commission from Jesus to preach the gospel, or they recorded the teaching of those who received this commission. However, we are called to imitate Christ, who is the unique Son of God. Then why should we not be able to imitate the apostles and evangelists?

This morning’s gospel in particular helps me realize that the call to spread the kingdom of God extended beyond the inner circle of Jesus’ disciples. If I understand the teaching of Pope John Paul II correctly, we are all called to contribute to the Church’s mission of evangelization in our different ways. It is a call to all Christ’s disciples, and as a call from Christ it is not optional. We are stewards who have been entrusted with a task and we will give an account of how we have exercised our stewardship.

This call is not beyond the ability of any of us. Every situation is an opportunity to proclaim the nearness of the kingdom of God. St. Paul proclaimed the gospel when he was imprisoned. All of the apostles proclaimed the gospel to societies that rejected them and persecuted them. Only a few of the early Christians were preachers or teachers. Most of them proclaimed the good news by their manner of life, and some by their manner of death. With the power of God’s word to support them they opposed the power of the Roman Empire, and they triumphed.

As we face a situation of spreading secularism and growing indifference to Christianity and the concerns of Christianity, we too need to base our hope on the power of God’s word. Not all of us are called to preach God’s word, but all of us are called to live according to God’s word. In a society characterized by pluralism and intellectual relativism, I submit that the effectiveness of those who proclaim the gospel verbally will become increasingly dependent on the witness of those who put God’s word into practice in their daily lives. The harvest is still great and the workers are still few. We need to pray that the Lord will send workers into his harvest. We also need to respond to the Lord’s call to work in his harvest.