“Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves.”
On this feast day of Saint Luke the Evangelist, we can imagine that the First Reading was chosen for its brief mention of the saint. The Gospel passage is taken from Luke’s account of the Gospel, but he is not mentioned there, as he never met Jesus during His earthly life. Nonetheless, today’s Gospel passage is about being appointed and sent by Jesus. As such, each of us can directly relate it to his life as a disciple.
“One who is sent” is the literal meaning of the word “apostle”. Today’s Gospel passage, however, is not about the sending of the Twelve, but about the sending of the 72 whom Jesus sent ahead of Him as “advance men”. The 72 are to prepare people to receive Jesus. This is how we can relate this Gospel passage to our own lives as disciples. Very few members of the Church serve as successors of the apostles in the role of bishop, but every Christian is sent by Jesus to prepare others to receive Him. This fact is often overlooked today. There is a confusion still, so many years after the Second Vatican Council, between the roles of the clergy and laity.
The role of the laity in the Church is largely “outside” the Church, in that the laity carry the fruits of the Church into the wider, secular world. The word “apostolate” is all but obsolete today in referring to the work of the laity, but it needs to be reclaimed to describe the right and responsibility of the laity to engage the “world” with the Good News of Christ.