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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Thursday of the Twenty-sixth Week in Ordinary Time
1st Reading (Neh 8:1-4a.5-6.7b-12): The whole people gathered as one in the open space before the Water Gate, and they called upon Ezra the scribe to bring forth the book of the law of Moses which the Lord prescribed for Israel. On the first day of the seventh month, therefore, Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly, which consisted of men, women, and those children old enough to understand. Standing at one end of the open place that was before the Water Gate, he read out of the book from daybreak until midday, in the presence of the men, the women, and those children old enough to understand; and all the people listened attentively to the book of the law. Ezra the scribe stood on a wooden platform that had been made for the occasion. He opened the scroll so that all the people might see it (for he was standing higher up than any of the people); and, as he opened it, all the people rose. Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God, and all the people, their hands raised high, answered, «Amen, amen!».

Then they bowed down and prostrated themselves before the Lord, their faces to the ground. As the people remained in their places, Ezra read plainly from the book of the law of God, interpreting it so that all could understand what was read. Then Nehemiah, that is, His Excellency, and Ezra the priest-scribe and the Levites who were instructing the people said to all the people: «Today is holy to the Lord your God. Do not be sad, and do not weep», for all the people were weeping as they heard the words of the law. He said further: «Go, eat rich foods and drink sweet drinks, and allot portions to those who had nothing prepared; for today is holy to our Lord. Do not be saddened this day, for rejoicing in the Lord must be your strength!». And the Levites quieted all the people, saying, «Hush, for today is holy, and you must not be saddened». Then all the people went to eat and drink, to distribute portions, and to celebrate with great joy, for they understood the words that had been expounded to them.
Responsorial Psalm: 18
R/. The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart.
The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul; the decree of the Lord is trustworthy, giving wisdom to the simple.

The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the command of the Lord is clear, enlightening the eye.

The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever; the ordinances of the Lord are true, all of them just.

They are more precious than gold, than a heap of purest gold; sweeter also than syrup or honey from the comb.
Versicle before the Gospel (Mk 1:15): Alleluia. The Kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the Gospel. Alleluia.
Gospel text (Lk 10,1-12): The Lord appointed seventy-two other disciples and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place, where he himself was to go. And He said to them, «The harvest is rich, but the workers are few. So you must ask the Lord of the harvest to send workers to his harvest. Courage! I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Set off without purse or bag or sandals; and do not stop at the homes of those you know.

»Whatever house you enter, first bless them saying: ‘Peace to this house’. If a friend of peace lives there, the peace shall rest upon that person. But if not, the blessing will return to you. Stay in that house eating and drinking at their table, for the worker deserves to be paid. Do not move from house to house.

»When they welcome you in any town, eat what they offer you. Heal the sick who are there and say to them: ‘The kingdom of God has drawn near to you’. But in any town where you are not welcome, go to the marketplace and proclaim: ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off and leave with you. But know and be sure that the kingdom of God had come to you’. I tell you that on the Judgment Day it will be better for Sodom than for this town».

«Ask the Lord of the harvest to send workers to his harvest»

Fr. Ignasi NAVARRI i Benet (La Seu d'Urgell, Lleida, Spain)

Today, Jesus speaks to us of his apostolic mission. Though «He appointed seventy-two other disciples and sent them» (Lk 10:1), the Gospel's proclamation is a task that «cannot be delegated to a few “specialists”» (John Paul II): we have all been called and we all need to feel responsible. Each one from his own place and condition. The day of our Baptism we were told: «You are Priest, Prophet and King and you will receive eternal life». Today, more than ever before, our world needs the testimony of the Christ's followers.

«The harvest is rich, but the workers are few» (Lk 10:2): this positive interpretation of the mission is interesting. The text does not say, «there is a lot to sow and a few workers». Maybe today, we might have to speak like that, in view of the great ignorance of our society about Jesus Christ and his Church. A hopeful glance at the mission may engender optimism and illusion. Let us not be discouraged by pessimism or despair.

To start with, the mission waiting for us is, at the same time, exciting and difficult. Our mission neither can nor must pretend to force adhesion to the announcement of the Truth and of Life, but simply to hint a free attachment. Our Pope reminds us that the ideas are to be proposed not imposed.

«Set off without purse or bag or sandals...» (Lk 10:4): the only missionary's strength must be Christ. And, so that Christ may fill his life, the evangelizer must free himself of whatever is not Christ. Evangelic poverty is the great requisite and, at the same time, the most believable testimony the Apostle may offer while only this unselfishness can make us free.

The missionary announces peace. He is a bearer of peace because Christ, is the “Prince of Peace”. This is why, «whatever house you enter, first bless them saying: ‘Peace to this house’. If a friend of peace lives there, the peace shall rest upon that person. But if not, the blessing will return to you» (Lk 10:5-6). Our world, our families, our personal ego, they all need Peace. This is why our mission is so urgent and exciting.