Ps 19:8, 9, 10, 11
The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart.
26TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
Psalter: Week 2 / (White)
St. Therese of the Child Jesus, virgin & doctor
1st Reading: Ne 8:1-4a, 5-6, 7b-12
In the seventh month, all the people gathered as one man in the square before the Water Gate, and they asked Ezra to bring the Book of the Law of Moses, which Yahweh had given to Israel. Ezra brought the law before the assembly, both men and women and all the children who could understand what was being read. It was the first day of the seventh month. So he read it before the plaza in front of the Water Gate from dawn till noon before the men and women and those children who could understand. All the people were eager to hear the book of the law.
Ezra, the teacher of the Law, stood on a wooden platform built for that occasion.
Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was in a higher place; and when he opened it, all the people stood. Ezra blessed Yahweh, the great God; and all the people lifted up their hands and answered, “Amen! Amen!” And they bowed their heads to the ground.
The Levites Joshua, Bani and the rest of their brothers explained the Law to the people who were standing. They read from the Book of the Law of God, clarifying and interpreting the meaning, so that everyone might understand what they were hearing.
Then Ezra, the teacher of the Law, said to the people, “This day is dedicated to Yahweh, your God, so do not be sad or weep.” He said this because all wept when they heard the reading of the Law. Then he said to them, “Go and eat rich foods, drink sweet wine and share with him who has nothing prepared.
This day is dedicated to the Lord, so do not be sad. The joy of Yahweh is our strength.”
The Levites also calmed the people down, saying, “Do not weep. This day is a festival day. Do not be sad.” And the people went their way to eat, drink and share, and they had a great feast, because they had understood the words that had been proclaimed to them.
Gospel: Lk 10:1-12
After this the Lord appointed seventy-two other disciples and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place, where he himself was to go. And he said to them, “The harvest is rich, but the workers are few. So you must ask the Lord of the harvest to send workers to his harvest. Courage! I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Set off without purse or bag or sandals; and do not stop at the homes of those you know.
Whatever house you enter, first bless them saying: ‘Peace to this house.’ If a friend of peace lives there, the peace shall rest upon that person. But if not, the blessing will return to you. Stay in that house eating and drinking at their table, for the worker deserves to be paid. Do not move from house to house.
When they welcome you in any town, eat what they offer you. Heal the sick who are there and say to them: ‘The kingdom of God has drawn near to you.’
But in any town where you are not welcome, go to the marketplace and proclaim: ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off and leave with you. But know for a certainty that the kingdom of God has drawn near to you.’ I tell you that on the Judgment Day it will be better for Sodom than for this town.
I have always admired the boldness of Jesus in this evangelization campaign. Seventy-two disciples is not a small army of preachers. We easily can imagine their short preparation for the task. They had just heard the teachings of the Lord and seen his miracles. And then they were sent. Why? Because the harvest was rich, and Jesus knew the will of the Father. Can we guess here the intention of Jesus during his nights of praying? Yes, he asked the Lord of the harvest and the workers were abundant. Isn’t that a lesson for us? Therese understood it.
The advice of Jesus to them deserves reflection. They were lambs among wolves. There is no evangelization without risk and opposition. Christian disciples have to be confident in God, not in human means, like purse or bag. Francis of Assisi was such a disciple; Anthony M. Claret was one too in his missions through Catalunya. He stressed that poverty is the first quality of the evangelizer.
Greetings are simple: “Peace!” Stability is demanded. No concern for meals. The message is one of awakening: “The kingdom of God has drawn near to you.” This seems to echo John the Baptist’s preaching.
The final remark is not to be forgotten. The Gospel is the ultimate invitation. The gesture of wiping off of the dust is a symbol. The allusion to Sodom is a reminder for the future.
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