Thursday of the Twenty-sixth Week in Ordinary Time [I]
Nehemiah 8:1-4,5-6,7-12 + Luke 10:1-12
“The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few….”
The Church often quotes verses from today’s Gospel passage in her promotion of vocations. However, these seventy-two to whom Jesus speaks are appointed and sent for a specific reason. They are sent “ahead of” Jesus, not in His name or in His person. They are sent “in pairs to every town and place He intended to visit.” They are “advance teams”, if you will. In the general sense in which they are sent ahead of Jesus, we can consider these 72 as symbolizing all baptized Christians. What Jesus says to them speaks today to each of us Christians.
Jesus offers many brief sayings in today’s Gospel passage. All are loosely joined together. Many can be singled out and meditated upon for a long period of time. Take this proclamation of the Lord: “behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves.” It’s not difficult for a Christian disciple to use these words as a justification for self-righteousness in the face of any opposition, justified or not. Nonetheless, that possibility doesn’t nullify the meaning of Jesus’ words. At our best, we disciples are “lambs among wolves”. We might wonder, if that’s our best, then what’s the worst?
While each Christian might be tempted to turn away from the “vocation” to be a lamb, perhaps we can take solace in two simple Gospel truths. Our Lord and Savior is the Good Shepherd [John 10:11] as well as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world [John 1:29].