14th Sunday C
Sunday 3rd July 2022
The Gospel Paraphrased
There are many fine translations of the Gospels readily available. This paraphrase is not meant to replace them. Rather the intention here is to offer a more contemporary rendering so that you can imaginatively translate the Gospel in your own situation.
This Sunday's Gospel Paraphrased
Lk 10:1-12, 17-19
After these things Jesus called together another seventy disciples and sent them out in pairs commissioning them to go to every town and place he intended to visit. He said to them, ‘Indeed, the harvest is vast and the labourers are few. You should be praying to the Lord of the harvest to send labourers out into his harvest.’
‘Look, be on your way! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not carry a purse, a begging bag, no sandals. Do not be waylaid in greeting friends. When you go into a house, greet the people with “Peace be to this household!” If people of peace live there, your peace will surely rest upon them there. If not, it will return to you.’
‘Remain in that house, simply accepting whatever food and drink they have to offer, for workers deserve to be paid for their work. Don’t go moving from house to house.
‘And when you go into a city and they welcome you, eat whatever they put before you. Cure their sick and tell them, “The Kingdom of God is very close to you!” But is you go into a city, and they do not welcome you, just walk away from there saying to them, “We shake the very dust of this place from our feet. But know this for certain, the Kingdom of God has come into your midst. On the day of judgement, it will go easier with the city of Sodom that refused hospitality to Lot’s guest than it will with your city”
When the seventy returned, filled with joy, they said, ‘Master, even the devils obeyed us when we spoke in your name!’ Jesus replied, ‘I saw Satan falling like lightning from the sky. Look, I am giving you the authority to tread on scorpions and snakes and defeat every power of the enemy. Nothing will be able to injure you. But don’t rejoice in this power. Rather rejoice that your names are written in heaven.’
The Psalms are the ancient prayers of the Jewish people, here paraphrased into contemporary language.
This Sunday's Psalm
Ps 65:1-7, 16, 20
Sing out in joy to God all the earth,
Make music to honour God’s name,
May your praise give glory.
Say to God, “How awesome are your works!”
All the earth will worship you,
shall sing to you, sing to your name.
Come! See! The awesome works of God!
Awesome his works amongst the peoples.
Sea turned to dry land!
The people passed through streams on foot.
There we were overcome with joy.
His power rules over all.
Come! Listen! All who fear God.
I will proclaim all he has done for me.
Blessed be God who has not turned from my prayers,
nor withheld his kindness from me.
Words cannot contain our desire for God but they help direct our minds and hearts towards God's love and express our needs.
This Sunday's Prayer
Loving Father, you have called us to witness to the Kingdom of your love. May we go out in freedom of mind and heart to offer your love to all whom we encounter. May our weakness and vulnerability become signs of your power. We ask this in Jesus’ name confident that you will hear us.
The Commentaries Summarised
As a Church we are in a web of wisdom that comes to us both from tradition and contemporary writers. This section offers a summary of some commentaries on the Gospel. Also below is a list of the books and articles that have been consulted in compiling this Sunday's "Pray As You Can" and which could be used for further reading.
This Sunday's Commentary
In the previous chapter to this Sunday’s reading, Luke told of Jesus sending out the twelve apostles. Now, in a seeming duplication, he sends out a much larger group, with the manuscripts varying as to the number, seventy or seventy-two. If the number is seventy, Luke could be reminding the reader of Moses’ appointment of seventy elders to assist him in leading the people.
Jesus’ injunctions cover a variety of experiences and are expressed in a form that startles us with its extremity. The striking demands to divulge themselves of all possessions and to ignore greetings along the way are Semitic ways of stating symbolically central aspects of mission life. As we know from elsewhere, the disciples did have purses, money, and haversack. But here Jesus stresses that they must live from an underlying trust in God. Similarly, human relationships are not to distract them from their central calling to preach the Gospel
This focussed attitude shows itself in a simplicity in relation to the people to whom the disciples are sent. They are to accept what is offered to them and are not to be looking out for better offers in relation to their personal comfort.
Rejection and hostility are to be expected. Indeed, a number of the commands call for a disciple to be peaceable and calm in the face of rebuff. They are to be secure in the knowledge that God is the one who will pass the ultimate judgement. Sodom is referred to, not because of its sexual immorality, but rather because of its refusal to act hospitably towards Lot’s guests.
Christian conversion is promoted by conversation. This section is a response to and a development on the knowledge gained from the commentary section.
This Sunday's Exposition
When Jesus told the disciples to announce to the people in the towns and villages that the Kingdom of God was very near, it was not only because he, himself, was coming amongst them, offering them salvation, it was also because God was already working within them, both as individuals and as a society. This presence of God was to be the ‘entry point’, so to speak, by which the Kingdom could flourish even more. In Jewish society, being hospitable to strangers was a basic more of social behaviour. Strangers would present themselves before a house and, unless there were strong and valid reasons for acting otherwise, a decent person would welcome such people, offering food and lodging. For a person to act otherwise was worse than rude: it was irreligious. Not only was there the tradition of Abraham’s hospitality, the Law ruled that strangers should be welcomed. When Jesus sent his disciples out, without money, food or spare cloak, he expected them to use this very fine more of society as a platform to preach his coming Kingdom. Standing vulnerable before a house, calmly open to whatever might happen, the disciples’ very presence would draw out the goodness or the badness that was present in their prospective hosts’ hearts.
The same can be said of our own time. Our Christian faith is not something that is to be parachuted down into an alien and hostile world. If we think like that, we will seem like the hostile preachers on the railways stations who scream for people to repent. In contrast, Jesus expects us to recognise and use the good practices and ideas already present in our society as a means by which people could come to know even more the goodness of God. When we are tempted to deride all that is ‘wrong’ around us, it is salutary to take time to list the good aspects of our society: the spirit of volunteering, the social security system, the practicing of queueing, democracy, the rule of law etc. Sure, these are not perfect; that is why we need the presence of Jesus’ Kingdom. But they make us realise that God is already at work in our midst. We are merely messengers to this.
Reflection is an essential element of our growth in Christ. As we reflect over what we have learnt and ponder it in our hearts, we come to recognise the presence of God in our lives.
This Sunday's Reflection
One of my brothers lives in a growth area of a capital city. In recent years, an older priest moved into the area to start a new parish. He had nothing: no church, no school, no facilities. He hired a chapel in a non-Catholic school for use on Sundays and then took to the streets, door-knocking. Going from house to house, he introduced himself and invited people to church. He now has a significant congregation, many of whom are lapsed Catholics or people who have never been part of any church. In this day and age, given the public standing of the Catholic priesthood, that took great courage…or great trust in the injunctions that Jesus gave in this Sunday’s Gospel. Jesus expected the disciples to go out, enthusiastic and vulnerable, placing their trust not in themselves, nor in what they had but in the great gift they had to offer: the Kingdom of God to people desperately in need of such a gift. For this priest, his very vulnerability became a means by which he could preach the transforming power of the Kingdom.
We are all called to preach the Kingdom. For myself, I don’t feel called to go from door to door but I do realise that my ability to preach is very closely aligned to where I experience my vulnerability. We do not reveal God’s saving power by what we own or by what influence we have or by how assertive our personalities are. We reveal the Kingdom by allowing God’s grace to shine through our failure and weakness. And to begin to do that we have to become at ease with our own vulnerability.
And when we are at ease like this, we can accept rejection when it happens with a peaceable calm and move onto the next person or situation in which God wants us to shine. I have met the above priest and he exudes the joyous calm of the Kingdom. I fully expect that, going from door to door, he experienced some unpleasant reactions…but that does not deter him. If God respects the free will of people, so does he. His joy is to preach the Kingdom of God.
Looking at art works or movies is a great way to open ourselves to the meaning of the Gospels. Seeing can bypass our preconceived notions, giving us new vistas of enlightenment. With painting or sculpture one needs to sit quietly and absorb the dynamics of the piece. The drama of movies more easily engages us and offers a way to conversation about the Gospel with other members of your family.
This Sunday's Visual Meditation
The purpose of mulling meditations is to offer a few ideas that one can mull about while doing other occupations. There are many things we do in our day that do not require our full attention - some things which are largely done on automatic pilot - like driving a car or peeling the potatoes. While we give these our attention, part of our mind is still at work mulling on other things and unless it is given something positive to feed on, we easily feed on negative thoughts. Personally I find mulling time the most likely time for God to get through to me. Because I am not so conscious of myself, God gets through the cracks and opens my heart to look at life differently.
Two practical times for mulling can be when exercising and when driving. Some small preparations for integrating such prayer into these exercises can be helpful.
As you do your preparatory stretches, pray the line of the Psalm "I praise you God for I am wonderfully made!"
Similarly when doing your concluding stretches use the prayer of St Clare "Praised be you, my God, for creating me!"
Have some music that you find helps you turn you mind and heart to God and play that for the first 10 minutes or so of your trip.
This Sunday's Mulling Meditation
As you go through this week, mull on the good things in our society by which God’s love and grace is shown. How can you appreciate and develop these things?
In the Letter of James, we are told that the Scriptures are like a mirror in which we can see ourselves. In this type of meditation we take a piece of Scripture, hold it before us and consider what echoes within our heart. These echoes help us to see who we are before God and how we are loved. What usually echoes in us are situations that we are dealing with in our lives. When something strikes us, we do not actively try to solve the situation or work it through. Rather we sit holding it in God's love. The point of such a meditation is to make space within the situation for God's love to be. In 'sitting with' such a situation, painful or sad, we come to recognise the love of God that is at work on our lives. The suggestions for Mirror reflections can also be used for Exercise reflections but wouldn't be advised for Driving Prayer as often some degree of emotion or distraction might rise in such prayer.
This Sunday's Mirror Meditation
Rest in the love of your God.
Quietly consider the areas in your life where you feel vulnerable. How does God’s love and grace support you in these areas?
Can you see how you could witness to the Kingdom of God from your experience of weakness and vulnerability?
Rest in the love of your God.
Suggestions for the Programme
The elements of the programme can be used in any way that helps your prayer. The suggestions below are fairly simple ways of using this programme.
Become conscious of your God
Hymn or poem
Reading of Gospel text
Mulling over a reflection
Become conscious of your God
Reading of Gospel text and reflection
The programme can also be used for Staff Prayer. How you may put together such a prayer would be influenced largely by the size and dynamics of your staff. For example, a smaller staff group might be able to use discussion of a movie as a way of exploring the meaning of a Gospel.
A painting illustrating the Gospel could be displayed on an interactive board
Reading of the Gospel
Invitation for share reflections
Reading of part of the Gospel
One or two of the mulling themes
Time for reflection
- Bring forth the Kingdom by Marty Haugen
- Come With Me Into the Fields by Dan Schutte
- The Harvest of Justice by David Haas
- Prayer of St Francis by Sebastian Temple
- God Has Chosen Me by Bernadette Farrell