Homily for October 3rd, 2015: Luke 10:1-12.
Jesus has already sent out his twelve apostles, telling them to “take nothing for the journey.” They were to travel light, trusting not in material resources, but in God alone. (Lk. 9:1-5) He chose twelve, because the old people of God had twelve tribes. The Greek version of Genesis, chapter 10, lists 72 nations in the world. Just as the sending of 12 apostles symbolizes the founding of a new people of God, so the sending of the 72 in today’s gospel symbolizes the mission to the entire world. Jesus sends them in pairs so that they can support one another. His messengers are not Lone Rangers. We depend on one another. Here too, Jesus tells his messengers to travel light: “Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals,” Jesus tells them.
But why does Jesus tell them to “greet no one on the way”? He does so because the message he entrusts to them is urgent. There is story in the Old Testament about the prophet Elisha sending a messenger to bring back to life the only son of a barren woman to whom God has given a son in answer to Elisha’s prayer. Elisha tells the servant: “If you meet anyone, do not greet him, and if anyone greets you, do not answer” (2 Kgs 4:29). The servant’s mission was urgent: exchanging greetings on the way would delay him. So also here, with the 72.
As an encouragement to his messengers, Jesus tells them: “The harvest is abundant.” But they must “ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.” There was a time when Catholic parents, mothers especially, were the primary recruiters of future priests. No longer. Ask any Vocation Director, and he will tell you: the major obstacle to priestly vocations today is parental opposition. How sad! In a day of small families, almost always the result of a conscious choice, parents want grandchildren. A son who goes to seminary and becomes a priest will not give them grandchildren. But he will have hundreds of spiritual children. That is why Catholics call their priests “Father.” Speaking for myself, I can tell you that I not only pray for priestly vocations. I tell anyone who will listen that priests who are happy are among the happiest men the world. I know, because I’m one.
We pray in this Mass therefore, that the Lord will help many of our young people to hear and heed the call of the Good Shepherd, to serve him and his holy people as priests, religious Sisters, and Brothers.