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Homily for fourteenth Sunday C

05 Jul 2019, by Rev. Fr. Joel Okojie OSA in Sermons

The 72 othersJesus appointed seventy others and sent them out in pairs to towns and villages to proclaim the word of God. According to Luke, in chapter 9 of the same gospel, he had sent the twelve on the same mission and with the same instructions. By sending another group is an indication that truly the harvest is rich and more labourers are needed. He needs you, he needs me, and he needs us to proclaim the message of God.

Evangelism is not for the priest or the ordained ministers alone but every Christian; we are all called evangelists. Jesus sent out the seventy others in pairs to indicate that we go out not as separate bodies but as one Church, one Lord. Evangelism is the mission of the Church, not privatized by the individual.

Jesus sent out seventy others; meditated on this passage of the scriptures, I held onto the Lord’s statement, that “the harvest is rich, but the labourers are few.” Truly the harvest is rich, for there are so many to be converted, brought into the fold, loved, cared for, forgiven, and taught to accept forgiveness. I do not doubt that the harvest is rich, but I asked, are the labourers few? I will dare not contest what Jesus said; he says the labourers are few, but looking at our society today, I wonder if the labourers are actually few. There are so many Christian denominations in our world today, so many men and women “of God,” our streets are packed full of preachers, so many are “specialized” in seeing visions and giving revelations. With all these, Jesus still insists that the labourers are few.

There is a strong message here, a strong warning for those who no longer find God in themselves or their Church. A strong warning for those running after miracles and after the so-called powerful men and women of God parading everywhere. Be careful, Christ warns.

St. Paul warned the Corinthian Church in his second letter about the reality of false apostles, deceitful workers, or labourers disguising themselves as apostles of Christ (2Cor. 11:13-15). Jesus insists that the labourers are few even though they appear to be so many on our streets. There is a sense of urgency in the voice of Jesus; he says to them, “start now,” go now because souls are lost, sons and daughters of God are being deceived, they are being brainwashed and misled by all kinds of fake visions, messages, and revelation. Many have been given so many loads to carry; their heads ache, their hearts heavy, and their ears full. Many are tired of getting messages and revelations about their families, businesses, and other areas of their lives.

To the seventy others Jesus sent out, he instructed, “Carry no purse, no haversack, no sandals. Salute no one on the road.” The prophet Elisha gave his servant the same instruction when he sent him on a critical mission, the mission to restore a dead child’s life. The prophet says to his servant, “Gird up your loins, and take my staff in your hand, and go. If you meet anyone, do not salute him; and if anyone salutes you, do not reply; and lay my staff upon the face of the child” (2Kg 4:29).

Not to salute anyone and not to reply greeting for us may be arrogant and disrespectful, but that is far from what he and the prophet meant; he did not mean to encourage the seventy others he sent out to be arrogant disrespectful, neither did the prophet mean that. Their instructions were simply a way of communication to the sent the seriousness of their mission and the need to avoid distractions, for they could be carried away by greeting.

The seventy others were instructed to travel light, to carry fewer things. They were instructed not to go with extra money (no purse); they depended on those who will welcome them into their homes. To go on such a journey or mission without a purse is a call to trust, a call to faith in Christ, who is the provider. They traveled without a pause and did not ask Jesus what if no one welcomed them into their home; they went on that mission with the faith that he who sent them will not leave them to be by themselves. Jesus indeed did not leave them alone; he watched over them. And for that reason, they returned with great testimonies.

Brethren, we, too, are on a journey, the journey of life. We need to travel light. It is a journey of faith,Lots of baggage to trust like the seventy others Jesus sent out. Jesus knows everything about us, our past, our present, and our future. He knows what lies ahead of us just as he knew what awaited the seventy othe and warned them, “I am sending you out like Lambs among wolves.” Jesus knows our challenges, he knows the difficulties of life’s journey, and he knows how weak we can sometimes be. Like the seventy others, we must learn to hold on to Christ no matter what we see or experience in life. The seventy others conquered and testified because they held unto Christ; they did not deviate. They did not go looking for deceptive messages and revelations but trusted Jesus Christ. That is not to say that the seventy others did not encounter a problem; they sure did, but conquered and returned with the message of victory; the devil submitted to them.

In our life journey, we must meet with the good, the bad, the ugly, but we must keep moving with faith in Christ, who watches over his people. Never give up because we will surely come back like the seventy others to testify to the power of God through Christ our Lord.