After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road.
Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house!’ And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house.
Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.’
I tell you, on that day it will be more tolerable for Sodom than for that town.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
We have all possibly had this experience: A lazy Saturday morning and we’ve slept in a little later than usual. Before we’re ready to engage the outside world, the doorbell rings, and we’re immediately put out by the inconvenience. Blurry-eyed and annoyed, we answer the door to find a couple of very well-dressed missionaries with conversion pamphlets in hand. It’s too late to pretend we’re not home, and we’re not put together enough to pretend we were just on our way out. We briefly ponder the question, “Why do they do this? This can’t actually work.” We have to make a decision: rudely dismiss the guests at the door or come up with the words to feign engagement and kindness.
One can easily read today’s Gospel as Jesus sends out his disciples to announce the Kingdom as a way to identify with the perspective of these missionaries, sent into an uncomfortable and sometimes hostile world as “lambs among wolves”. But it’s more challenging (and maybe more likely) to identify with those on the receiving end of Jesus’ door-knockers, whether in the uncomfortable vignette above or simply in our daily interactions with those who bring the Word into our lives in simple ways. Can we be the wolves receiving the lambs? When the Saturday morning encounter above happens at my door, I am supremely confident that the unbidden missionaries will not convince me to waiver from my faith. Yet Jesus in today’s reading is at the least expecting hospitality from me. Whether I am receiving the message of any kind of missionary or disciple or I myself am the one trying to deliver news of the Kingdom, can I be humble enough to offer or receive the hospitality of those I meet? Those meetings may not constitute the whole Gospel message, but they are the beginning of a holy encounter and the threshold of the Kingdom Jesus proclaims.
Jesus, I want no one to shake the dust at my door from their sandals, nor do I ever want to be the lamb among the wolves. Yet you send us on mission to encounter each other, each as simply as we can with no pretense and no distraction, so that we may share the Gospel with one another. Help me to embrace these opportunities of hospitality as a first glimpse of your Kingdom, and your peace will be the sign I share with others.
—Jim Broderick KingPlease share the Good Word with your friends!