14th Sunday OT Year C
Today's gospel picks up where we left off last week. Last week Jesus said to his disciples: follow me. This invitation from Jesus becomes the very source of our identity. We are followers of Jesus. This is what it means to be Christian. We follow Jesus, we spend time with him, we draw close to him. Today in the gospel Jesus gives us a mission.
Do you remember the story of Moses? After he received the law he became the leader of the people. They used to come to him night and day asking him to settle disagreements and to give them advice in their lives. However, it became too much for him. So, he selected 70 elders upon whom God sent the spirit of prophecy so that the mission of Moses might be carried out on a wider scale. Today Jesus does the same thing. He bestows upon the 70 disciples his own mission, he makes them his co-workers. We have all been asked to spread the gospel.
In other words, every member of the Church is a missionary. Do we see ourselves as missionaries? Do we see the mission of the church as our mission? We should. We should see the mission of the kingdom as our own mission. We find our satisfaction in life when the Church flourishes, when the gospel is spread. We are followers of Jesus, which means that we find our fulfillment in life by first experiencing the peace of the kingdom and then sharing that peace with others.
The harvest is plenty and the laborers few. How true this is! We usually use this passage in terms of vocations to the priesthood or religious life. And it is true! We should pray to God that he send us more priests, more brothers, more sisters. We need them. But that is not all the passage means. It means that all of us need to take responsibility for the spread of the gospel. All of us, by our very baptism, our relationship with Jesus, are missionaries. Every day you should ask yourself: what have I done to spread the gospel today? Spreading the gospel is not simply a job for the priests. Vatican II taught us that the mission of the laity is to bring the gospel to the corners of the world. There are places I can never reach: I cannot preach in your factories, banks, schools, or homes. You can! You will find joy if you do.
How to become a missionary? First you must become enraptured by the gospel. At World Youth Day in Denver 1993 John Paul II told the youth of the world that they should never be ashamed of the gospel. However, at the end of the Mass, he changed his remarks. He said (paraphrased), during my homily I misspoke. I told you not to be ashamed of the gospel. I should have told you to be proud of the gospel. This is how we become missionaries of Christ, we must become proud of the gospel, like St. Paul we boast of the cross of Jesus Christ, we experience the joy of the gospel. A famous adage goes that one cannot give what one does not have. If you have not been possessed by the gospel you will never be able to share it with others.
It says in the gospel that Jesus sent these disciples to the places where he wished to go. It is Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit, who carries out the work of evangelization. Jesus is the one who does the work of conversion. Our job, as ambassadors of Christ, is to prepare the way.
Jesus first calls us to follow him, then he handed on his mission us. Each one of us, then, are missionaries for Christ. We will only be good missionaries if we are possessed by the gospel, for we will know Jesus and will desire to share this good news with the world. Are you ready to be a missionary for the gospel?