1st Reading – Isaiah 66: 10-14c
This is the last chapter of Isaiah, written by the 3rd Isaiah source and after the exile. The people were facing the difficulties of the restoration. There is a mood of disillusionment in the Trito-Isaiah chapters. 2nd Isaiah brimmed with hopeful expectation of the imminent return; Trito-Isaiah lived with the reality of what is. Things were not as the people hoped. There was controversy in the Palestinian community. Those who had returned from exile were eager to get back to their orthodox way of life. Those who had remained in Israel during the exile had become enculturated with the conquering peoples and were not so eager (This is similar to the divisions in our own country and the Catholic Church.). But God comforts God’s people as a nursing mother. Belief in a future life, a new age, and a new creation sprouts forth (M. Birmingham’s W&W Wkbk for Year C, p. 414-415). When there are conflicting ideologies, how does God comfort us? What can we do to recognize that comfort? How does the image of God as mother resonate with you?
2nd Reading – Galatians 6: 14-18 (Paul’s closing remarks to this letter)
For Paul, everything rests on the power of the cross. NT Wright tells us in speaking about Paul, “God has accomplished, and will accomplish, the entire new creation in the Messiah and by the spirit. When someone believes the gospel and discovers its life-transforming power (As Paul himself did!), that person becomes a small but significant working model of that new creation…the point of being human is to be an image –bearer, to reflect the praises of creation back to God, (Paul, p. 407). Jesus’ death on the cross makes this possible. His love overcame evil, and that means everything.
There is a balance between living a life detached and living life fully immersed in love. Detachment is approaching life freely. You are okay with however things work out. This is hard because we want our own way! And culture encourages decision-making or choosing sides. It is also hard because we love. We want things to work out well for those we love and we cling to what we achieve. But God is here to help us with this balance. This is why Paul says no one will make trouble for him again, because he bears the marks of Christ. It is through Christ that we receive consolation. Can you think of a time when you detached from something, trusted in the Lord and it worked out?
The Gospel – Luke 10: 1-12, 17-20
Only Luke uses this story of Jesus sending out 72 to go ‘ahead of him in pairs.” What do you make of this gospel story as Jesus continues his journey to Jerusalem? Do you think any of the appointed were women?
From William Barclay, The Gospel of Luke, 137-138: When Jesus said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightening from Heaven,” it is a difficult phrase to understand. It may mean that he saw evil being overcome by their proclaiming God’s kingdom. But it could also be a warning against pride. The legend was that it was pride that caused Satan to rebel against God; it was Satan’s pride that cast him out of heaven. Jesus may be telling them to be careful of the same pride and overconfidence. They had been given great power, but it was a gift. Our greatest glory is not what we can do, but what God has done for us – ‘your names are written in heaven’ – sinners saved by God’s free gift of grace.
From Richard Rohr, The Good News According to Luke, 137-142:
Luke’s Jesus sends the disciples out in two’s. By doing so, Luke is telling us that the gospel happens between people – it doesn’t happen in your mind. It is through a sacrificial love – being in right relationship with at least with one other person (the only real ‘test’ of God’s Spirit being present). Only then do we begin to understand ‘salvation.’ Salvation is not antiseptic, unreal and sterile. “Person-to-person is the way the gospel was originally communicated. Person-in-love-with-person, person-respecting-person, person-forgiving-person, person-crying-with-person, person-hugging-person: that’s where the Spirit is so beautifully present . . . Restraint and passion – that is the paradoxical experience of the Holy.” We grow into our ability “to love another in a way that totally gives” ourselves and entrusts ourselves to another while respecting the other person and standing back in honor of them. Jesus is also trying to console them even as he is ‘toughening them up’ for the job. He warns them not to feel defeated when rejected. If they do not accept your peace, it will return to you. If they accept you, then let your presence as another Christ bring God’s goodness to them.