Today’s Gospel story from Luke recounts the sending out of the 72 disciples. When the Lord first began His public ministry, He quickly gathered many disciples (from the Greek word for student). From these He selected “The Twelve”. These Twelve, of course, were the closest to Him, who traveled with Him, who shared the Last Supper with Him, and who saw Him in the upper room after His resurrection. The Lord deliberately chose twelve Apostles in order to signify that He was instituting a new Covenant – one which is the fulfillment of the old Covenant God formed with Moses and the Twelve Tribes of Israel. This is also why St. Paul refers to the Church as the “Israel of God” (today’s second reading, Paul’s letter to the Galatians). To further the symbolism, just as Moses, at God’s direction, selected 72 men to assist him in the administration of the Chosen People during their journey to the Promised Land, so now Jesus appoints 72 to assist Him and the Apostles in ushering in “The Kingdom of God”. He sends them out in pairs so that they may be an encouragement to each other and to provide greater safety for them as they travel. This custom of sending out missionaries in pairs is still practiced among several Christian sects: most of us have seen Mormons or Jehovah Witnesses out in pairs going door to door. Although we recognize that they do not possess the fullness of the Truth of the Gospel, one still has to admire their commitment to bringing their message to the world in much the same way as the 72 did when sent out by Jesus. Perhaps we Catholics could learn something from this. It isn’t necessary for everyone to go door-to-door to preach the Catholic Faith, but it is important for each one of us to share the Faith with those we meet. Having someone with you is always a great help. Alone we feel inadequate to the task, but with another to help and support us we are strengthened.
The annual observance of our nation’s Independence Day is an opportune time for us to reflect upon the great gift which freedom is, and the obligation that it places upon us. As Christians we should remember that God made us with a mind to know and a will to choose. Freedom is an inalienable right. God gave it to us – made it part of our very nature. It is not granted to us by any state or human power. It is, rather, the obligation of the state to protect and defend human freedom. This is the purpose of law enforcement and defensive armies. Freedom is a gift from God which enables us to choose the good. As we celebrate our nation’s birth, pray that God will preserve us from tyranny and evil. Pray that He will preserve us in freedom: freedom to choose the good, freedom to live for God.
I welcome to SSPP, Fr. Arul Joseph, who is here to ask for your support of the parish and school of St. Xavier in India. Thank you for your generosity!
May God bless you!