08 July 2007

WRITTEN IN HEAVEN

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lk 10:1-12,17-20

Do you love stories of adventures? Most stories of adventures begin with discontentment with something. Whatever is being sought, it is clear that it cannot be found right here and right now. Or at least, it is thought to be so. The here and now is not enough. For example, if someone tells us to find heaven, it is presupposed that heaven is not where we are right now. Thus, a decision needs to be made: stay here and learn now to be contented with the familiar or leave the familiar to find what we seek. Much is at stake in the choice we must make. On the one hand, if we stay, despite the strong urge to leave, we might live the rest of our lives regretting missed opportunities. On the other hand, if we leave, despite the security and convenience that the familiar gives us, we might lose everything we used to have. The tension created by this decision-making is very important because without it many people – not only stories of adventures – may not at all begin. The truth is, discontentment can be a constructive experience: it can urge people to seek and strive for the better.

Quite often, when we have to leave our comfort zone, we feel that we are not yet ready for the journey we must make. The temptation to bring more than we really can carry is very strong and real. But if we carry everything we have, sooner or later we will certainly have to accept the fact that we have always known even before we started our journey: He who carries most and leaves little behind remains the same person he was before he left. This means that whoever carries most and leaves little behind has the least possibility of finding what he is seeking because he has not left for the journey in the first place. To find what we sought, we have to leave from where we start. Whoever compromises can be truly in danger.

The heart of Jesus’ message to us who say we want to follow in His footsteps is the radical demand of leaving everything behind, of letting go of everything, of surrendering everything, of risking everything. Our gospel today shows that Jesus believes that we can face and take this risk for the sake of God’s Kingdom.

When Jesus sent the Seventy-two mentioned in the gospel today, perhaps we wonder how ready they were for the demands of the task entrusted to them. Do you see here the image of Jesus who had to trust His disciples if He truly wanted His outreach to extend to as many people as possible? He had to mobilize a movement because His days on earth were few. Because He had only three years to do public ministry, Jesus had to depend on the various individual and communal talents of His disciples. He had to trust that they understood His teachings and that they were resolved to understand them and share them with many others. Perhaps, if we were in charged of the mission-sending in the gospel today, those Seventy-two could still be undergrads today and, possibly, bench-warmers in the immense task of evangelization. But it is clear that there was a note of urgency in the words of Jesus: “Go on your way!”

While there was urgency in the words of Jesus to the Seventy-two, there was, however, no illusion at all in His instructions to them. He sent them like lambs in the midst of wolves. He wanted them to live the radical life of an itinerant preacher who left home, family, and property. They should not bring any extras. They were not to stop for a chat along the way. When they enter a house, they should bless its household with peace; and if they are accorded hospitality, they should not try changing the menu or fixing the accommodations for their own convenience. All these were distractions that could delay or totally hinder the Seventy-two from accomplishing the mission Jesus gave them.

Freeing themselves from all possible distractions in bringing about the Kingdom of God, Jesus told the Seventy-two that their only consolation is in the shalom or peace that they carry in their hearts wherever they would go. This shalom is the peace of God’s Kingdom. Only in this shalom should their hope be; and this shalom is likewise their gift of gratitude to those who welcome them.

Returning from their fist mission assignment, the disciples were rejoicing because their mission was successful. Their great joy revealed that there were many people who welcomed the word of God through them and that the word of God in itself was the source of their mission. Did you notice that Jesus advised them that they should rejoice not because they were successful with their mission but because their names were written in heaven? If their joy depended on the success of their mission, what would happen if they failed in their mission? This, too, we need to understand and learn. Our success in our endeavors – no matter how great, noble, or godly they are – should never be the only criterion for our joy. We may be successful now, but failure remains a perennial possibility for us. And what happens with our joy when we fail?

God speaks to us today through the Prophet Isaiah also. In the first reading, the Prophet reminds us about what we can rely on at all times, in all places, and in all life-situations, most especially when things go wrong: “As nurslings, you shall be carried in her arms, and fondled in her lap; as a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you….” We know too well, because we already experienced it many or a few times, do we not? In our endeavors for the Kingdom of God, there are times when scorpions sting us and wolves bite us. It is during those moments when we need all the more to trust in what Jesus tells us today: “Your names are written in heaven.” Be not afraid! There in heaven, no one can erase our names.

1 Comments:

At 8:34 PM , Anonymous Bubut said...

Thank you Father God that our name is printed in Heaven.

God bless po.

 

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