Gospel then: In today’s Gospel, Jesus sends 72 of his disciples out “like sheep among wolves.” When they return rejoicing over the success of their mission, he shares in their joy and reminds them of the fundamental purpose of their work: “Rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
Gospel now: Today the Church faces the daunting task of New Evangelization. Christ’s disciples today must take a lesson from the early Church, whose success hinged on persevering in courage, humility, and gratitude to the Lord who commissioned them to work in his harvest.
Courage. If Jesus met with opposition when he went about preaching and healing, why shouldn’t his disciples experience the same opposition? Thus he forewarns them, “I am sending you like lambs among wolves.” His followers must understand they are sent out with his power to do his work, not their own. Ultimately, their mission cannot fail, because the success of their mission does not depend on them, but on the one who sends them. So he sends them with the instruction to live poor and detached from their personal belongings and even from the success of their work. When failure seems eminent they are to wipe the dust from their feet and move on.
Humility. Jesus shares in his disciples’ joy when they return. After all, he was the one who gave them the power to heal and cast out demons. When we are united to Christ in our lives and in our work, our success is his success. With this in mind, we should not be afraid to evangelize but rather spread the faith with courage, for it is Christ who sends us forth, and humility, because we only have the power to carry out his work through him, with him, and in him. When we are obedient to God’s will, we unite ourselves to him; his triumphs become our triumphs, and ours his.
Gratitude. Redemption is a grace, an unmerited, free gift for our eternal salvation. Though we collaborate with the Lord by participating freely in his work of evangelization, our works do not measure up to the grace God showers on us, nor could we ever do anything on our own to merit this gift. God freely bestows his grace on his faithful followers simply because he loves us. Therefore, when God allows you to share in his triumphs, give thanks for the wonderful things the Lord has done through you and “Rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”