14th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Luke 10:1-12, 17-20

In last Sunday’s Gospel we heard the exacting demands of discipleship. This Sunday the focus narrows as we hear just how the seventy-two are to conduct themselves as they set out on their mission.

‘Carry no purse, no haversack, no sandals.’

This is a stark reminder that complete trust in God is required if they are to be God’s instruments. Their full attention it to be given to their mission. It’s perhaps reassuring that they go out in twos. Whoever or whatever they meet on the road will be a little easier if there are two.

‘Whenever you go into a town where they make you welcome, eat what is set before you. Cure those in it who are sick, and say, “The kingdom of God is very near to you.” 

I am struck by the detail and the incarnational tone of the instructions that they are given. That eating comes first perhaps says something about the importance of acceptance and trust in the missionary dynamic. I am reminded here of Tom O’Loughlin’s work on the ‘grammar of meals’:

Meals have their own dynamics, what we might refer to as their own
grammar, which becomes a theological logic with regard to
sharing in one another’s celebrations. I cannot welcome you to
my table and then refuse you food, nor can I take a place at your
table and then refuse what you provide!

Meals, Eucharist and Ecumenism

The disciples are then to meet the needs of all whom they encounter. Sickness loomed large in the time of Jesus and the arrival of people with a reputation for being able to cure would have spread very quickly in any village.

The sharing food and the healing of sickness now provide the backdrop for their core message: ‘the kingdom of God is very near to you.’ The seventy-two in their words and actions are inviting those they meet to welcome the Kingdom with all of its potential and challenge.

How can you welcome this Kingdom this week?