Liturgical Year C

14th Sunday of Ordinary Time; Entering someone’s life
The Croatian language is one of the rare European languages (along with Polish and a few others) which has preserved its original names for the months of the year, including July – srpanj (the root of the word is srp which means a sickle) in Croatian. Of course, for modern people July stands for – holidays.

In our minds the hammer and sickle are a part of communist symbolism, but a sickle is primarily an agricultural tool used for harvesting grain crops, mostly wheat, and then forming sheaf of wheat. Today not many people have the opportunity to take a walk through  golden fields of wheat and see for themselves what was Jesus thinking of when he said that the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.
These Jesus’ words have become a classic and they are often quoted when talking about lack of priests, monks and nuns. On the other hand, many sects take it literally so if you meet, or have them at your house door, Jehovah’s witnesses, Mormons or some other missionaries, you will see that there are always two of them ready to quote words from the Bible such are these from the end of today’s gospel.

Is that the real meaning of the mission of the seventy-two? If we take a closer look, we’ll see that Jesus actually sends them to go from house to house, but he doesn’t give any instructions on great preaching or baptizing; he doesn’t tell them to speak about him and some new religion. As a matter of fact, Jesus mentioned only three things: entering the house, peace and the Kingdom of God.

The disciples were sent to go into people’s houses. Jesus gave them instructions how to do it – to eat with them, to heal the sick – which shows the real meaning of that commandment. To enter someone’s house means to enter someone’s life, to get to know circumstances unknown to “outsiders”, but only to the family. In this time of ours, which seems increasingly pagan, the faith should be proclaimed by life in action, by sharing your own life. Today when medicine has progressed so much Jesus’ call to heal the sick is a call to heal the areas of human life where medicine has no authority: healing of hearts, fears, anxiety and alienation that make us distrustful to each other.

That’s why Jesus points out: “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’” (Lk 10,5)  At that time in Hebrew people were greeting each other with Shalom – peace be with you. Even in modern Hebrew when Jews ask each other How are you? they actually ask How is your peace? Peace is the first gift of the Risen Christ. With the greeting Peace be with you Jesus used to enter people’s homes and frightened hearts of his disciples after his resurrection. This is the peace he gives today to his seventy-two disciples he sent out as the most beautiful gift they could bring to people they met.

We have experienced that some people spread this profound and calming peace around themselves, but there are many more people who leave the impression of restless and impatient heart. The same thing goes on among us Christians who are called to bring Christ’s peace to restless people’s hearts as well as the seventy-two disciples did. Here we can apply the words of St. Gregory the Great, the pope from the sixth century, who said: “Indeed, see how full the world is of priests, but yet in God's harvest a true laborer is rarely to be found.”
Indeed, Christianity, although still being the largest of the world’s religions, has had its struggles in trying to be the religion of peace, proclaiming Christ’s peace and message to the world. That’s why it’s even more precious to have people who have allowed Christ to enter their heart and spread his peace without the use of big words. All this is included in a gesture we do during the Holy Mass when a priest or deacon says: “Let us offer each other the sign of peace.” It isn’t just an act of shaking hands, but a call to come to peace with oneself and our neighbours and a chance to open your heart for Christ to enter it with his peace. The Kingdom of God is as much here as there is peace in our hearts. Peace and justice are basic characteristics of the Kingdom of God which is a gift of the Spirit of God, the Spirit of love.

But let’s go back to the gospel for a moment. The seventy-two returned with joy saying that even evil spirits submitted to them in Jesus’ name. Wasn’t the first effect of Adam and Eve’s sin, their disobedience to God their feeling of fear and anxiety? They both ran away and hid because they were scared.

To have courage and trust to open your heart to God and our brothers and allow Christ to touch me with his peace is the first victory over the evil one who does not have any other weapons but lies and restlessness he puts into the hearts of people. God in his mercy gives every Christian the power to defeat the Evil and help others to do so. With peace we get by our trust in Him we go two by two, without a purse or bag, ahead of him to every road of this world.

Bruxelles, 8 July 2007
05.07.2013.Author: p. Antun Volenik, SJ
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