There are many interesting points about our scriptural readings this week.  For one thing, the Gospel passage from Luke about the sending of the seventy-two disciples is unique to him. Mark and John do not include a similar story about the “sending out” of Jesus’ followers to proclaim the good news and Matthew’s Gospel speaks only about sending out the 12 Apostles.  Luke, however, describes both the sending out of the 12, which he does in Chapter 9, and the sending out of the “72” in Chapter 10, which we are reflecting upon today.  This is very significant, because one could say that what this means is that Luke is trying to say that not only priests (represented by the 12 Apostles) share in the work of evangelization, but that lay people do as well, because “the harvest is great, but the laborers are few.”  It also means that Luke is teaching that the good news is not only for the 12 tribes of Israel, again represented by the 12 Apostles, but for everyone-it was believed in Jesus’ time that there were 70 countries in the entire world. It is also interesting to understand that many of the instructions that Jesus gives them has to do with the fact that He was indeed sending them out “like lambs among wolves.”  In Jesus’ world the traveler’s life was literally in the hands of thieves and robbers and was totally dependent on the hospitality of those that they met. That’s why Jesus told them not to carry with them anything of value but to trust in the kindness of those in the towns they visited. The law of hospitality was taken vary seriously because it was literally a matter of survival, not just being polite as we think of it today. To violate this rule was to commit a most grievous sin. Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because they failed to show hospitality to Abraham. It was so important to Jesus that He ordered His disciples to publicly “shake off from their feet” the dust of any towns that were inhospitable to them.  But even then, they were still to proclaim the good news while testifying against them.  As they were shaking the dust off their feet they were still to cry out that “the kingdom of heaven is at hand for you” whether those people wanted it or not.

AuthorCathy Remick