July 7, 2013 A View from the Rectory Window

This past week, on July 4th, we marked a great beginning – the birth of our country, a beginning worthy of fireworks and sparklers.

As a matter of fact, we’re just ending a time of year when we celebrate a lot of great beginnings: graduations, weddings, ordinations. Every third Sunday, here in our parish, we celebrate the Sacrament of Baptism – another ritual honoring the start of something beautiful — a life in the church. It’s a good season for Hallmark.

All these momentous beginnings signal life going on — landmarks being reached. They’re moments of great hope. I imagine, so was the moment we encounter in this weekend’s gospel – when Jesus sent 72 of his followers into the world to begin his work.

We don’t know who these people were. Luke doesn’t name them. They weren’t necessarily any of the 12 apostles. They were, it seems, ordinary people — faithful followers of Christ who were eager to spread his message.

If you want an idea of what they looked like, just look around you. For those 72 are us.

What’s being described, I think, is not just a one – time event, but rather, the first missionaries being dispatched to a few scattered towns. It is, in fact, the great mission of the church through all time. And it’s not just Christ’s mission. It is ours.

Where do you find the kingdom of God?
It is a Sister of Charity bathing a leper. A chaplain praying over a prisoner. A teenager volunteering to help the homeless. A mother and father teaching their child the sign of the cross.

Like the 72 in the gospel, we are all called to proclaim the coming of God’s kingdom —to proclaim it with joy, and with all of the gifts God gave us. To proclaim it, in fact, with our lives. We proclaim God’s kingdom with hearts full of compassion, with mercy. We proclaim it in the way that we love. That tells the world: “The kingdom of God is at hand.” And we proclaim it with simply being who we are, and using those gifts that God gave us.

Consider Christ’s simple instruction. Don’t take a money bag, or a sack or sandals, he tells his followers. In other words: bring nothing. Bring only yourselves. What we are, who we are, is enough.

What a beautiful thought. Our Catholic tradition tells us that “grace builds on nature.” This gospel lets us know that our nature is more than enough for God to use as the foundation for His grace. From that, we can become His instruments – instruments, in fact, of peace.

Monsignor Peter M. Joyce