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Gospel reflection for 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

Sister Veronica Lawson RSM (East Ballarat) offers a reflection on the Gospel for the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C, Luke 10: 1-12, 17-20).

Sisters of St Joseph of Cluny recently celebrated their bicentenary. Their leader spoke at that time of the sisters’ commitment to put the primary needs of the poor before their own secondary needs. I heard her words as an invitation to travel more lightly on the journey of life for the sake of all earth’s human and other than human communities. I hear today’s gospel reading partly through the lens of that invitation.


Luke’s story evokes the experience of ancient Israel. Just as Moses chooses seventy elders to participate in his work with the people of Israel (Numbers 11), so Jesus chooses seventy for his mission of bringing God’s reign. He sends them ahead of him ‘two by two’ to preach and to heal in places he is yet to visit. In other words, they are to share in the prophetic ministry of Jesus as the seventy elders shared in the work of Moses, God’s prophet of old.


In his second volume Luke will recount the extensive missionary activity of a spirit-filled married couple, Priscilla and Aquila. We might therefore reasonably visualize some married couples among these missionary teams. We might also imagine teams like the Cluny Sisters, proclaiming God’s reign, bringing healing to God’s people, and putting the primary needs of those they meet before their own secondary needs.


The missionary teams are sent into Samaritan territory to be bearers of peace: “like lambs among wolves”. Jesus instructs them to travel light and to accept whatever hospitality is offered. In other words, they can expect to be welcomed by some and they must honour that welcome.


His instruction in the likely event of rejection sounds more wolfish than lamblike, however. They are to walk out into the city streets and declare that they are wiping away the dust that has stuck to their feet ‘in protest’; and then to proclaim that God’s empire is present in the healing and teaching that they bring. There is, of course, a time to protest.


This is just the beginning of Jesus’ long journey to Jerusalem. As we join the journey, we might consider what it means to be lambs among wolves or among those whom we have constructed as wolves, what it means to be bearers of the gospel of peace, and what it means in our times to travel light. We might consider the gift of partnerships in ministry and even embrace new partnerships for the sake of the mission of peace.