Reflection on the Gospel of Luke 10:1-11, 16-20, Fourth Sunday after Pentecost: July 3, 2022 

The Gospel of Luke 10:1-11, 16-20 

The Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore, ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, `Peace to this house!’ And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, `The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, `Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.’ 

“Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.” 

The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!” He said to them, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” 

Let us Pray: Heavenly Father, thank you for entrusting us with the mission of spreading the Gospel throughout the world! Thank you for the Holy Spirit, who reminds us of everything Jesus has taught. Thank you for your Son’s grace and forgiveness when we fall short. And thank you for his promise to give us his strength and authority, which is sufficient for all our needs. This we pray in your Name. Amen. 

Travelling without personal possessions was an indicator of one’s humility and possible holiness. It also made one wholly dependent on the hospitality of strangers. The interplay between the offering of hospitality and the offering of peace, providing healing, and proclaiming that the Kingdom of God has come near is what is detailed in these verses. Where there is hospitable receptivity – blessings can be offered. Where there is no welcome, there can be no blessings offered. 

This is a continuation of Luke’s Chapter nine. At this point in Luke’s Gospel Jesus has now made his famous turn toward Jerusalem (Luke 9:51) and toward all that awaited him there. This is the place He sends out 70 followers. It is strangely comforting that Jesus is sending these folk “where he himself intended to go.” We could read this as Jesus is sending them as an advance party to prepare his way. His instructions were very clear, He wanted them to go in peace and spread the peace to all places they visited. As we read this, we start to ask the question, where is the peace of God today?  That’s a question many are asking. It’s a question probably God might also be asking. While we wrestle with this question let’s not project our failings and human imperfections onto God, waiting for and expecting God to fill the void and fix the problems. This is not about God’s failings or imperfections. It is ours and the blood of the victims, the tears of the mourners, and the pain of the world are crying and begging for a different answer. Let’s not give the same old answers. Let’s not use the same old excuses. Let’s not offer the same old solutions. Let’s not meet the world with the same old beliefs. Instead, let’s number ourselves among the seventy sent to every town and place where Christ himself goes. Let’s enter every house, first saying, “Peace to this house.” Let’s become people with hearts at peace, not at war. Isn’t that what you want for yourself? For your children and grandchildren? For your family and friends? For the world? I know that’s what I want. I think we all do. But I think we also struggle with what peace means, what it looks like, and how we attain and keep it. If the events of today’s world offer us anything it’s the opportunity to rethink what peace means and reorient our hearts. 

When Jesus sent out the seventy, he did not condition their offers of peace on who the recipients might be, their worthiness, what they had done, or what their response might be. Neither can we condition our offers of peace. Some will receive the peace and others will not. Either way, “the kingdom of God has come near” if our hearts are at peace. Is our understanding of peace too small and too narrow. Are we limiting peace to a particular set of behaviors and usually they are the behaviors we expect or want from the other person. We think of peace as an ideal to be attained and more often than not we define it as the absence or elimination of conflict. We’ve convinced ourselves that peace will come when this person or that group changes or stops doing something. Ultimately, we condition peace on our ability to change or control another. We let them determine whether our hearts are at peace or at war. That’s craziness and it doesn’t work. 

The struggle for peace begins not between me and another but within myself. So let’s consider what a heart at peace might look like.  What if a heart at peace is about loving our neighbor as ourselves? 

What if a heart at peace is about loving our enemies, doing good to those who hate us?  

What if a heart at peace means being merciful and not judging? 

What if a heart at peace offers forgiveness not seven times but seventy times seven? 

What if a heart at peace means feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, and visiting the sick and imprisoned? 

All these “what ifs” about peace are not so much prescribing behaviors as they are describing ways of being. Peace does not begin with our behaviors toward each other but with our way of being toward each other, our seeing each other as human beings created in the image and likeness of God. 

Offering the peace of Christ is more than a friendly handshake, a warm hug, or a “How are you? It’s good to see you.” It’s the recognition of another’s existence and his or her value as a human being, regardless of whether he or she is family, friend, stranger, or enemy.  We can be at peace with God while God walks among mankind and still says “My peace I give to you.” It is that peace to which we are called to be givers and makers.” 

Jesus has given us a mission. The joy in following Jesus is NOT in the results; the joy is in our relationship with him. 

Let us Pray: Loving God, 
open our ears to hear your word 
and draw us closer to you, 
that the whole world may be one with you 
as you are one with us in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 

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