14 Sunday C - Mission - Homilies

Thomas O’Loughlin
Introduction to the Celebration
 

When we think of Jesus preaching we think of people flocking to hear him, just as today we gather to re-affirm our identity as his people gathered now at his table. But in today’s gospel we hear of people being sent out from Jesus to prepare his way before him. We gather now, but we are also the people he has charged to prepare his way in the world today. To be a disciple is not only to follow, but to go ahead of the Lord announcing his presence. Let us reflect on these twin aspects of being Christians: following the Lord, and presenting the Lord to the world. We are called not only to be ‘disciples’ but ‘apostles’.

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Sean Goan
Gospel Notes 

Although Jesus is fully aware that his journey to Jerusalem will end in his passion and death, he is also aware that the mission to proclaim the good news is one that must be continued. In Luke’s gospel, which is probably more Gentile than the others, the theme of the universality of Jesus’ message is more to the fore. We can see one of the ways that is shown in the fact that seventy two disciples are sent out to prepare the way for him. In the ancient world it was believed that there were seventy two nations on earth and so this is symbolic of a mission to the whole world.

Two things are striking in the story: one is the simple urgency of the task of proclaiming the message. Some will accept it, others will not, but their rejection of the message should not be on account of any failing on the part of the messengers. The other striking feature is their success. They rejoice on their return because they know that are participating in the ultimate struggle of good over evil. In sharing their joy, however, Jesus reminds them that it is not about them but about God working through them and that should be the source of their joy. It is a call to humility.

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Michel de Verteuil

General Textual Comments 

In order to make a fruitful meditation on this passage, we must set ourselves some guidelines.

The first is that the seventy-two sent out by Jesus to go “ahead of him to all the towns and places he himself was to visit” represent all of us in our different vocations. As spouses, parents, teachers, ministers in the church community, friends, spiritual guides, political or civic leaders, we open the way for others to meet God, “go ahead of him”. Jesus’ instructions can help us become life-giving in our deep relationships.

The second is that we must not read the passage in a moralizing way, as if it is imposing a burden on us.  Like all Bible passages, it invites us to celebrate with joy, humility and gratitude those, including ourselves, who have lived Jesus’ instructions in practice. We have also failed to live
them out of course, and from that perspective, the passage calls us, in communion with the whole Church and all humanity, to conversion and repentance.

Thirdly we must enter into the highly imaginative language of the passage, allowing it to touch us even as it speaks to our reality. Two mistakes are to be  avoided therefore: to “interpret” the language so rationally that it no longer speaks to our emotions; to romanticize the passage so that it is not connected to real life.

The image of approaching people as a “rich harvest” (the same as telling them, “the kingdom of God is very near to you”) is very touching and radical, but must be correctly interpreted. It speaks of approaching others not as objects of pity, but in admiration, aware of how much we can learn from them.

The attitude is especially important for missionaries and all who work in transcultural situations.  Unfortunately it has not been the most common approach among church workers, neither in the past nor today.

There is an important message for those who hold leadership positions at local and national level. So often they don’t trust the creativity of their communities.

Verses 4 and 5 evoke very dramatically the process of discarding prejudices, necessary if we are to meet people in their reality as a rich harvest.

“Lambs among wolves” tells us of the simplicity (to be distinguished from naïveté) this requires. It is the same as being  “poor in spirit.” “No purse, no haversack, no sandals” means getting rid of mental baggage, especially cultural; “salute no one on the road” is not deciding beforehand who we are going to admire.

Verse 6 reminds us that we must be free in ourselves, if our relationships are to be life-giving. Knowing that if our peace is rejected, it will “come back to us” saves us from being co-dependent.

Verses 7 and 8, “stay in the same house,” and “eat what is set before you,” warn against giving ourselves half-heartedly and keeping an eye out for more attractive relationships.

Verses 10 and 11 raise the crucial issue of how to deal with rejection. Experience teaches that rejection brings out the baser motives which lurk beneath even our noble relationships. “Wiping the dust off our feet” is a powerful description of the inner freedom by which we can move on to new commitments.
The basis of this inner freedom is to “be sure that the kingdom of God is very near.”

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Gospel: Lk 10:1-12; 17-20

This story in Luke shows us the variety of ways each evangelist molded the tradition he received to formulate his narrative within his individual overall theology. Most of 10:1-12 can be found somewhere in Matthew, but here it is gathered into one story. Then there is the cursing of Chorazin and Bethsaida for their unbelief (also found in Matthew), and then the return of the seventy-two which completes the story (10:17-20) which is only found in Luke. However, while Luke’s aim was to join all this material into a unified and memorable story, there were, and still are, several bad junctions between the various bits that he used. Perhaps the worst such junction was the portion of information on Chorazin and Bethsaida (verses 13-16, paralleled in Mt 11:21-23 and Mt 10:40) which broke up the story of the seventy-two, and which has very wisely been excised from the lection today to give a much more harmonious and comprehensible text. However, other bad junctions remain: for instance, only Luke mentions Jesus sending out seventy-two to prepare the way, yet once these are sent out (and one has no suspicion that there is any shortage of people to send out), we are immediately told to pray that there would be enough labourers for the harvest! (an item that makes perfect sense in the location it occupies in Matthew at 9:37).

The focus of Luke’s story can only be appreciated within his overall preaching (gospel and Acts) which is to locate the life of the church within the pattern of the spread of the good news: from Christ, to Jerusalem, to the surrounding areas, then out to the ends of the earth. This task is the work of Providence in human history (therefore, no haversack, etc.); and it is into this, the mightiest work of God, that the church is inserted. The whole church is, in effect, the seventy-two. This good news is then encapsulated in ‘the kingdom is near’ and the apostles, i.e. everyone in the churches, can rejoice not in their powers or status as Christians but because their names are written in heaven.

One technical point may come up from those who hear this gospel, if read from the lectionary today: how many were sent out? The Lectionary follows the Jerusalem Bible here which on this occasion opts for ‘seventy-two’ (and which thereby is in agreement with the Vulgate which reads septuaginta duos), in contrast to which most modern translations (e.g. RSV, NRSV) read ‘seventy.’ The problem is that the textual evidence is almost perfectly divided between the two numbers, so much so that some modern Greek editions go for this fudge: ‘seventy [twol’. The question that should be asked is which of the two numbers is more likely to be particularly symbolic for Luke? To that question, ‘seventy’ wins hands down, and there are almost no examples of ‘seventy two’ being a symbolic number. However, I personally am very glad that ‘seventy-two’ is in the lectionary text. The retention of this textual curiosity may provoke some of its hearers to ask interesting questions about the ecclesial origins and nature of the texts we read. 

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Homily notes 

1. For much of the twentieth century, many of the key words in the vocabulary of lay organisations in the church was related to the word 'apostle' such as 'apostolate,' 'apostleship', or 'apostolic [activity]‘. This is a word that we sometimes see less often today and words like ‘ministry’ and ‘discipleship’ have a greater prominence. This is, in itself, a very good development for each of these three words, ‘ministry’, ‘apostle­ship’, and ‘discipleship’, each picks out a particular aspect of the whole complex of what we are called to do as Christians. An active Christian life always involves service to the com­munity, it requires following and imitating, but it also re­quires a going out, a making present of the Lord in the world. It is this third aspect, this sending out, that is the focus today.

2. In the whole of the mystery of Christ there is a ‘ripple princi­ple’ at work. The image is that of a stone entering a lake and then the effects go out in concentric circles, getting wider and wider, until they reach the very edge. The whole surface of the lake is transformed as the ripples spread ever outwards. This is ‘like’ the entry of the Christ into the creation and then the effect of his coming keeps spreading outwards over the whole of the world and the whole of time.

3. This ripple principle forms the overall architecture of Luke’s preaching: the Lord comes among us, then he forms a group who are sent out bringing his message ever outwards, then the Lord ascends on high and his message spreads out through the apostolic preaching: first, in Jerusalem, then in Judea and Samaria, and then ‘to the ends of the earth’. This gospel presents this pattern in a nutshell.

4. We today are called to bring the ripple effect of our en­counter with Jesus Christ outwards. We are the group who have to show within the places we live that ‘the kingdom of God is near.’

5. But there is a constant danger: we often think that ‘the apos­tolic life’ is something that we can delegate to a few special­ists: full time ‘apostles’ or ‘missionaries in foreign lands’ or those who live ‘the religious life’. Every individual is called in a specific way to spread the word and to bring the pres­ence of Christ into the world – only some are called to do so in a ‘high profile’ way. We are called to be apostles in our baptism; we cannot delegate the responsibility. Rather we must search out the precise way that each of us is called to be an apostle – whether it is high or low profile – and how we each can make ourselves better fitted to the precise place and moment in the history of salvation where each is called to be the rippling presence of God.

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Scripture reflection

Lord, we thank you for the people you send out ahead of you to all the
towns and places you yourself are to visit:
- by loving their children parents open them up to your unconditional love
- spouses lift each other to a new plane of trustfulness
- good neighbours bring the hope of new possibilities to a neighbourhood
- those weighed down by troubles feel a surge of energy within them
as they experience the care of friends or the listening ear of their spiritual guides
- societies are inspired by their leaders
- men and women like Mother Teresa, Mandela and Gandhi
show the world humanity’s potential for greatness.
We thank you that Jesus’ instructions are fulfilled in such people.
We note how he sends them in pairs,
males and females complementing one another,
male and female elements combined within each of them.
Whereas we tend to approach people in need
- as problems that we must solve,
- as less fortunate than ourselves and to be pitied,
-  as helpless unless we rescue them,
they see in others, whatever their condition,
an abundant harvest waiting to be reaped;
if there is a problem, it is that there are too few labourers
and they must ask the Lord of the harvest to send others to reap with them.

Lord we thank you for those who came to us with openness, who did not
- try to bring us to their point of view
- prove that we were wrong
- insist that their way was the only one.
Like Jesus, they were humble and trusting like lambs among wolves.

Lord we thank you for the great missionaries of the church,
who came to other cultures without baggage,
without ambition or power-seeking, or looking to found an empire.
They carried no purse, no haversack, no sandals,
and had no pre-conceived ideas on who they would salute on the road.

We pray that when we give our peace to others, we will do so unreservedly,
not overly concerned about whether or not we will succeed,
trusting that if they are people of peace, our peace will rest on them,
and if they are not, we will not feel that we have wasted our energy,
since our peace will come back to us.

Forgive us, Lord,  that we spend so much time regretting
that those to whom you send us do not live up to our expectations,
so that we end up moving from house to house, if only in our minds.
Teach us to be life-giving wherever we find ourselves,
staying in the same house, taking whatever food and drink are offered us,
eating what is set before us.

Lord, when rejection by those we serve weighs us down
so that we don’t have the energy to make a new start,
it tells us that our service was really a way of affirming ourselves.
We pray that whenever we enter a town and they do not make us welcome,
we will be able to go out into its streets,
say that we wipe off the very dust of the town that clings to our feet
and leave it with them while we move on to other places and people.
What will keep us free from resentment and bitterness
is knowing that your kingdom is very near.

Homilies: 

1)    From Connections: 

THE WORD:

Jesus commissions 72 messengers to go before him to prepare for his arrival in the towns along his route to Jerusalem.  The number 72 symbolized for the Jews the number of the world’s Gentile nations.  In keeping with Luke’s use of symbolic numbers and his Gentile perspective, the 72 disciples represent the new Church’s mission to every nation and people under heaven.
 
Jesus instructs the seventy-two:

  • to keep focused on the ways and values of God -- travel light, accept the simple hospitality of those you visit;
  • to proclaim God’s peace “amid wolves”;
  • to offer hope and healing, not judgment and condemnation;
  • to find satisfaction not in what they have done in God's name but to rejoice in what God has done through them.
Jesus' vision of Satan's fall assures the disciples of every age that, despite the dangers of “serpent and scorpion” (First Testament symbols of evil), the good that they do out of faithfulness to their call will ultimately triumph.
 
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HOMILY POINTS:

Jesus instructs his disciples to “travel light” -- not to clutter up our lives with material things and material values, like the pursuit of wealth, status and power. 

The Gospel challenges us to make the hard choice and the unpopular decision, to endure the raised eyebrows and suspicious stares of those whose lifestyles and power bases are challenged by the demanding teachings of Jesus. 

Jesus sends forth seventy-two forth with no magical powers; he invests in them no special authority.  They are to go about their work with humility and joy.  They are to offer peace to all.  They are to accept whatever hospitality is offered to them with gratitude. They are to be Jesus’ agents for healing and reconciliation.  And Jesus promises that they will make a difference in people’s lives — and their dedication to the work of the Gospel will make a difference in their own lives, as well. 

Jesus commissions the seventy-two disciples of the Gospel -- and us -- to proclaim peace -- peace that is centered in embracing Christ’s attitude of servanthood and his spirit of compassion, peace that enables us to bring forth the good that exists within everyone, peace that is returned to us in extending the blessing of that peace to others.

 2)    From Petrus:

An expert gardener employed three men to work on the garden he had plant. But a business deal forced him to leave home. Before his departure he handed the hired workers many different packets containing various kinds of seeds. He instructed the hired men to water the ground heavily for three or four days and then plant the seeds. He returned after twenty days expecting to see a green lawn and plenty of flower trees adorning his garden. He was surprised when he found the ground bare and no sign of a lawn or flower trees to meet his eyes. He was furious with the workers and questioned them. They replied, “We watered the ground for three days and noticed weeds. We were busy removing weeds and after we had done away with the weeds,  we planned to sow the seeds.” The expert gardener told them bluntly, “You were hired by me to plant seeds and not to remove weeds.”

This is exactly the way we Catholics, working in God’s garden behave. We forget we have been placed on earth to make God’s garden beautiful. We were expected to plant seeds, but we opted for plucking weeds. We have known that the civic authorities at times raise the slogan, “Keep your city clean”. It hardly ever works because the top men in the city raise slogans and do nothing about bringing about a clean city.

 In the Church we find certain Catholics obsessed with the idea of cleaning the Church. They are bent on uprooting injustice, dishonesty, impurity, corruption and other evils found in the hierarchy starting from the Bishop to the last religious and Priests; even the laymen working in the ministries  of the Church should be thoroughly cleansed. Their slogan is, ‘We want a clean Church.’ Who can tell these people that this cleansing will be and what they have in their head only leads to an exercise in futility? Do not waste time removing weeds. Plant seeds, it will one day bear fruit.

 Let us look at the life of Christ on earth and the Jewish Church of which He was a member. It was corrupt to the core. The Sanhedrin, the Scribes and the Pharisees were fleecing the common man. Annas, the High Priest, after his term of office was over, got his sons and then son- in-law Caiphas to be High Priest. Priests pocketed the temple money and encouraged trafficking in the temple. Injustice, hatred, impurity, corruption and evil in many forms filled the Holy Land. Christ saw all this. He had a good following, but  He never planned to pull down men in authority. He never stirred His followers to pull down unjust structures of His days. He left the temple and the temple men to God His Father. He came from His Father not to pull down but to build up. He stood for construction, not for destruction. He was busy planting seeds, not uprooting weeds. He expects His followers to do for His Church what HE did when He was on earth.

 Christ came to give men the good news, though in His time plenty of bad news was circulating. Are we as Christians circulating good news or are we occupied with bad news.

 Today’s Gospel tells us that the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them out ahead of Him. Just eight months earlier, He had sent twelve. Today He sends six times that number on a ‘Good News Mission.

 ILLUSTRATIONS: 

From Fr. Tony’s Collection: 

1)    James Bond and Jesus’ disciples.  

James Bond according to M15 is simply unacceptable as a spy. At least that is what MI5 said. In March 2003, MI5--Great Britain's domestic intelligence agency--reported that characters like James Bond are too tall to serve as a spy in Her Majesty's Service because good spies should blend in with those around them. Since the average man is 6' tall or less, then the upper acceptable height limit for Great Britain's male spies is 5' 11" and for female spies, the upper limit is 5' 8". All the actors who have played James Bond in the movies have been 6' or taller. By MI5's current standards, none of them would have been qualified to serve as real domestic spies. A secret agent can't exactly keep his secret status if he stands out too much. (CNN.com - James Bond "too tall" to be a spy - Mar 6, 2004, International Edition London, England (Reuters). I doubt that Jesus chose his disciples on the basis of their height, do you? As he sent them out into the world, he certainly didn't seem concerned that they would stand out too much. In fact, he insisted that they should stand out as walking witnesses of Jesus’ good news -and that their mission could be dangerous.  

2)    One-man army for Christ:  

The story of St. Philip Neri, who earned the title “Apostle of Rome” in the 16th century, is an example of missionary zeal demanded by today’s gospel. Philip came down to Rome in the early 1500s as an immigrant from Florence and a layman. When he arrived, he was horrified by the physical and moral devastation of the city. Rome had been sacked in 1527 by the Germans who had left much of the city shell-shocked and ruined. The Gospel wasn’t being preached, and many priests and cardinals were living in open defiance of Christ’s moral teachings. Philip prayed to God to learn what he might do. He read the letters that St. Francis Xavier had sent back to Europe from India, where he had been converting tens of thousands, and Philip thought that God was calling him to follow the great Basque missionary to India, to give his life in proclaiming the Gospel. He went to his spiritual director and told him what he thought God was asking of him. The wise old priest affirmed his desire to serve and bear witness to Christ, but told him to focus his attention on re-evangelizing those around him: “Rome is to be your India!” This was quite a task for one man. But Philip, relying on God’s help, started — first as a layman, then as a priest — to convert Rome, one person at a time. He would cheerfully go to street corners and say, “Friends, when are we going to start to do good?” He developed various entertaining social and religious activities to give the people, especially the young people, better alternatives for their hearts and time than those offered by the debauched culture around them. His impact was enormous, and when he died in 1595, much of Rome had been reconverted. The same God who spoke to Philip almost five hundred years ago challenges each one of us this morning through the Scriptures, “Your parish and your family, your workplace and your parish are your mission.

3)    The definition of a good sermon:  

It should have a good beginning and a good ending and they should be as close together as possible. A sermon should be modeled as a woman's dress: long enough to cover the subject, but short enough to keep it interesting. A rule of thumb for preachers: If after ten minutes you haven't struck oil, stop boring! A pastor was greeting folks at the door after the service. A woman said, "Father, that was a very good sermon." The pastor says, "Oh, I have to give the credit to the Holy Spirit." "It wasn't THAT good!" she says. A priest, whose sermons were very long and boring, announced in the church on a Sunday that he had been transferred to another church and that it was Jesus' wish that he leave that week. The congregation in the church got up and sang: "What a Friend we have in Jesus!" 

4)     Boring preacher:  

A man was walking a pit bull down the road. The dog got away, ran up to a preacher and bit him on the knee. Then the dog went across the street and bit a beautiful young woman. The owner was brought before a judge who asked, "Why did your dog bite the preacher?" The man answered, "I don't know! He's never done anything like that before." Then the judge asked, "Well why did he bite the young woman?  "The owner replied, "Oh that's easy to answer! Probably he wanted to get the taste of that boring preacher out of his mouth!" 

5)    Place of amusement:  

A pastor who was well known for the jokes he told during his sermons asked Park Benjamin, a famous humorist, why he never came to hear him preach. Benjamin replied, "Why, Sir, the fact is, I have conscientious scruples against going to places of amusement on Sunday."

6)     Abraham Lincoln 
 
Abe put it rather strongly but effectively, when he said: "I do not care for cut-and-dried sermons. When I hear a man preach I like to see him act as if he were fighting a bumblebee. 

7)    Albert Schweitzer

the missionary doctor and Nobel Laureate, was born in 1875 in the region of Alsace, an area claimed vigorously both by France and Germany. Schweitzer was always attracted to scholarship and to his father’s ministry in the Church as pastor. He earned degrees in Theology and Philosophy while at the same time serving as a curate for a small congregation. And he kept that small ministry even when he was teaching at a prestigious university and writing a foundational work of theology, Quest of the Historical Jesus, in 1905. Schweitzer also achieved renown as an authority on the music of J.S. Bach. An organist of international repute, he produced a great edition of Bach’s works and wrote a six-hundred page study of the composer. One day he chanced upon a notice in a magazine describing the need for doctors in Africa. And so he decided to leave behind all his accomplishments and answer the call. His friends and colleagues thought he was mad. But his mind was made up. He earned a medical degree with a specialty in tropical diseases and presented himself to the Paris Missionary Society which sent him with his wife to the area of Africa now called Gabon. Within months he had designed and built an African-village-style hospital. He tried by his work as a missionary doctor to relate Christianity to the sacredness of life in all its forms. He followed strictly the guidelines for the preaching and healing mission Jesus gave to the seventy-two disciples as described in today’s gospel and became one of the great Christian missionaries of the twentieth century.

8)    The story “Picture of Peace” by Catherine Marshall.  

There once was a king who offered a prize to the artist who would paint the best picture on peace. Many artists tried. The king looked at all the pictures. But there were only two he really liked, and he had to choose between them. One picture was of a calm lake. The lake was a perfect mirror for peaceful towering mountains all around it. Overhead was a blue sky with fluffy white clouds. All who saw this picture thought that it was a perfect picture of peace. The other picture too had mountains. But these were rugged and bare. Above was an angry sky, from which rain fell and in which lightning played. Down the side of the mountain tumbled a foaming waterfall. This did not look peaceful at all. But when the king looked closely, he saw behind the waterfall a tiny bush growing in a crack in the rock. In the bush a mother bird had built her nest. There, in the midst of the rush of angry water, sat the mother bird on her nest – in perfect peace. Which picture do you think won the prize? The king chose the second picture. Do you know why? “Because,” explained the king,“ peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. Peace means to be in the midst of all those things and still be in calm in your heart. This is the real meaning of peace.” This Sunday’s Gospel reading (Lk 10:1-12, 17-20) tells us about the mission of the seventy-two disciples who are called to be peace-bearers and peace givers. (Stories for the Heart, compiled by Alice Gray)  

9)    Kim the missionary:  

A true story told by Father Ray. A couple of months ago, a man from our parish, Kim by name, came up to me and said, "Fr. Ray, please say an extra prayer for me. I’m giving a talk this afternoon to some high school teenagers at a public school, which my nephew attends. This year his class has been having ‘motivational speakers’ talk about how they have overcome the obstacles and difficulties they’ve faced in their lives. My nephew asked me to come and share my story." Fr. Ray said to him, "That’s a public school, you know. Do you plan to tell them everything?” He asked that question because he knew Kim’s story. Kim’s stepson had been murdered, his stepdaughter had died of cancer a week after she graduated from high school and his wife had been killed in a car accident. Prior to these tragedies Kim had lived the life of a pagan and hadn’t even been baptized. In the midst of the terrible sadness caused by these tragic events, however, he had opened his heart to God and embraced the Catholic faith. So Father Ray knew that if Kim were going to tell them everything—including the part about the Church and sacraments—the officials at the school might not like it. So Fr. Ray repeated the question, "Do you plan to tell them everything?” Without hesitation, Kim answered, "Absolutely!" Fr. Ray then told him, "Then I’ll definitely pray for you – and if you get arrested for mentioning God, Jesus and the Catholic Church in a public school, I promise to come and visit you in prison!”

Kim gave the talk. And what happened? The young people loved it! They thought it was so great that they voted him "the best speaker of the year," and asked him to return in the fall to tell his story to the whole school! This current incident illustrates the deep hunger for God still present in this materialistic world, and shows that young people like to hear authentic, sincere, witnessing to Jesus Christ. Into day’s Gospel text (Luke 10), we are told that Jesus sent out seventy-two disciples into the towns he was planning to visit, to prepare people for his arrival. The disciples were to do this by proclaiming the good news of God’s love and salvation and by healing the sick. This is what Kim did for those high school students! He healed the sick of heart by his words of witness, and he helped prepare some of them to receive Jesus Christ more fully into their lives!  

10)  Travel guides:  

Savvy travelers about to embark on a trip often prepare themselves by consulting the appropriate experts. A wealth of helpful information can be found in the form of travel guides which are readily available at any local library or bookstore. Therein, amateur tourists and veteran globe-trotters alike, can become familiar with what there is to see and to do in their chosen destination. Maps of the region aid in planning travel routes. Charts of average temperatures and rainfalls, addresses and telephone numbers of tour operators, timetables for buses and trains, calendars of special events, tables of the monetary exchange rate and listings of local museums, galleries, post offices, markets, banks, etc., all prove helpful to those who wish their travels to be uneventful and worry-free. Many guide books also include a region by region description of the most important and interesting sites to visit as well as a brief survey of the history of the area and a profile of personality of the local residents. Budget-minded or financially-strapped travelers usually appreciate the travel-guides’ recommendations as to the price ranges of various restaurants, hotels and motels. Some guides contain descriptions and recommendations as to the local cuisine and certain gourmet specialties. Many also provide a brief dictionary of important words and useful phrases to facilitate the travelers’ efforts at communication. A few of the more detailed travel books even offer tips concerning certain mores and cultural sensitivities of which the average tourist may be unaware. More oftenthan not, those who avail themselves of such information enjoy more pleasant and memorable travel experiences. In today’s gospel, Luke has featured Jesus detailing a list of travel tips and information of avery different sort; while this advice may not compare to that which is included in a Fodor’s or a Michelin or any other such guide, it is nevertheless valuable and necessary for every would-be disciple.(Patricia Datchuck Sánchez) 

11)   There is a funny story about two young Mormon missionaries

who were going door to door. They knocked on the door of one woman who was not at all happy to see them. The woman told them in no uncertain terms that she did not want to hear their message and slammed the door in their faces. To her surprise, however, the door did not close and, in fact, almost magically bounced back open. She tried again, really putting her back into it and slammed the door again with the same amazing result--the door bounced back open. Convinced that one of the young religious zealots was sticking their foot in the door, she reared back to give it a third slam. She felt this would really teach them a lesson. But before she could act, one of them stopped her and politely said, "Ma'am, before you do that again, you really should move your cat." 

12)  When Someone Is Drowning:  

There was an interesting story in Readers Digest sometime back by Elise Miller Davis titled, "When Someone Is Drowning, It's No Time To Teach Him How to Swim." Ms. Davis tells of sitting near a swimming pool one day and hearing a commotion. A head was bobbing in and out of the deepest water. Ms. Davis saw a man rush to the edge of the pool and heard him yell, "Hold your breath! Hold your breath!" Then a young lady joined him, screaming, "Turn on your back and float!" Their voices caught the attention of the lifeguard. Like a flash, he ran the length of the pool, jumped in, and pulled the man in trouble to safety. Later, the lifeguard said to Ms. Davis, "Why in the name of heaven didn't somebody holler that one word--Help? When someone's drowning, it's no time to teach him how to swim." Do you understand that there are people in our community who are barely staying afloat? Families are disintegrating, young people are becoming chemically addicted, and middle-aged people are facing life-crises that would blow your minds. What they need is good news of Jesus from zealous missionaries and pastors and committed Christians.
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A. Greeley:
 Once upon a time a mommy and a daddy were preparing to take their two children for two weeks vacation in the country. They had, as do most mommies and daddies these days, a sports utility vehicle (SUV). They figured that they would travel light. For two weeks you don’t have to bring the whole house, do you? Since the SUV was big, it was easy to pile things into it. First of all, they packed clothes. Because you can never tell what you might have to do or where you might have to go at the Lake or what the weather will be like, they didn’t really pack any more things then they would need for, let us say, a trip to Paris. Moreover they wanted their kids to look their best. So they packed comprehensive wardrobes for them too. You can never tell what might happen on a vacation, can you? Then there was the matter of toys and similar stuff. The weather might be bad so they had to pack enough toys to keep the kids happy if they were imprisoned in a cottage for two weeks. But the weather might be good, so they had to pack enough toys that the kids wouldn’t be bored on the beach.  Then each of the kids had their favorite toys without which they could not survive. Did I forget the family dog? Eventually the SUV was fully loaded and there was room for everyone except the mommy and the daddy. So they rearranged things. There hardly was room to breathe in SUV. When they got to the lake, they had to unpack all their stuff. When their vacation was over (as alas vacations tend to be) they repacked everything to drive home. Then when they arrived home they had to unpack everything. No one was talking to one another for three days.
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1)    It's a startling fact but true –  

Jesus and politicians have a lot in common. This no doubt comes as a surprise to those who regard politics as a dirty business, or who think of politicians essentially as liars, and who believe steadfastly that politics and religion don't mix. Nonetheless, Jesus and the politicians have a lot in common.
When you think of it, politicians get elected by promising us something better.  President Reagan was elected and then re-elected by asking the public, "Are you better off now than four years ago?" The first time, the people answered, "no," and elected Reagan for the promise of something better. Four years later they responded "yes" to the question and elected Reagan for another term in hope for an even better four years. 

Jesus and politicians do have a lot in common. Not always, however. A little girl asked her mother whether all fairy tales began with, "Once upon a time." "No," replied the mother. "Today most of them begin with 'If I'm elected.' "Jesus made promises, but not like that.
Was Jesus, 2,000 years ago, promising something better? Indeed he was. He said he had come to bring in the kingdom of God, the rules of God's righteousness in the world. For 900 years, Jews had been hoping for a restoration of the glorious kingdom of David and Solomon. For 500 years they had been longing for an end to foreign tyranny and a return to prosperity and freedom. And in Jesus' time the longings and expectations were at an all-time high…

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2)    When your kids are driving you crazy, there are two default responses.

One is to declare a universal “NO”-- 

-- No, you cannot jump off the roof.

-- No, you cannot drive two hundred miles to a rock concert with someone you just met online.

-- No, you cannot see what happens when you put a whole cantaloupe in the microwave and hit “5 minutes.”

Sometimes “no” IS the right answer.

 But the other automatic parental default is, surprisingly, the polar opposite. Need to get restless and rustling kids out from underfoot? “Go out and play!”

The directive “GO out and play” removes children from the world they are trying to manipulate and orchestrate. “Go out and play” is parent-speak for “Drop all the other stuff and just go explore life and enjoy the world.” It is, basically, the big YES!

“Go Out and Play!” is life’s big “Yes!” 

From our first Christmas-tree extravaganzas, we all fondle and foster a love of “stuff.” We want to accumulate and accommodate. We want the good stuff and the even greater stuff. We always want more. More what? More “stuff.”

 It is a hard thing to hear, then, today’s gospel text. For in this third “sending” story in which Jesus gives his missionaries instructions for the road, he tells his trusted troubadours of the kingdom not to take any “toys” with them. No “stuff.”

They are not to pack up any “extras” as they undertake their journey. They are not to bring extra money, extra clothing, extra sandals. (Yes, even in the first century, shoes are different than packing other stuff!) In twenty-first century terminology that means no “game boys,” no platinum cards, no Tom Ford Tuscan Leather cologne, no Prada leather handbags, no back-up Prince Harry blue suede shoes. All those accessories only downplay what Jesus told his disciples to bring with them, what Jesus had entrusted to them — his anointing and authority, and the message of the kingdom of God.
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3)    The Kingdom of God Is Here 

The main message of these 72 workers is the simple declaration “The kingdom of God is near.” Dallas Willard once said that when he was a young boy, rural electrification was taking place throughout the United States. For the first time ever, tall poles popped up across the landscape of the countryside with huge electric wires strung from pole to pole to pole. But initially at least, not everyone trusted electricity and so not a few rural families opted (for a time) to not hook up. They heard the messages of the electric company of how much easier life would be with electric washing machines replacing hand-cranked wringers and electric vacuum cleaners bringing to an end the old practice of hauling heavy carpets outside to have the dirt beaten out of them. They heard these promises but did not trust or believe them.
So in a sense, Willard wrote, you could have said to those folks, “My friends, electricity is at hand!” But if they opted to not tap into that power that was running right over their heads, then the nearness of the power would do them no good. Maybe the message of the kingdom’s nearness was like that. With Jesus in the world, the kingdom of God was near, at hand. All the goodness and glory and power of that kingdom was right there, but if they kept it at arm’s length, it would do them no good. Their lack of participation did not weaken the power of the kingdom. But it did land them in an unhappy (and unnecessary) spiritual situation of staying in the dark when the light of the world was right there.

Scott Hoezee, Comments and Observations
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4)    Seeing the Kingdom 

One of the worst things that can be said of people is that greatness passed by, and they did not recognize it. Yet in the words of Henry David Thoreau:

The morning wind forever blows;
The poem of creation is uninterrupted;
But few are the ears that hear it. 

Every one of us here this morning has at one time felt that morning wind blowing by; every one of us has been privy to that uninterrupted poem of creation. Yet how many of our ears have really heard it; how many of our eyes have truly seen it? What is preventing us from seeing the kingdom of God and letting it into our lives?

Leonard Sweet, Collected Sermons, www.Sermons.com
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5)    A Brave Life among Roses 

Francis Meilland dedicated his life to raising roses. He knew each plant intimately. As he strode through the nursery he came across one very special rose. "Ah, this one," he said, "this one," as he rubbed the particularly glossy leaf with a finely serrated edge. It was a masterpiece, unlike anything he had ever seen. Of all his plants, this one was sensational.

Meilland was anxious to give his precious rose a name and continue to work in his nursery but the year was 1939 and the threat of war hovered over Western Europe. His only hope was to preserve the precious flower from eminent danger. Soon thereafter, Nazi Germany had occupied northern France and were moving toward Paris. Waging blitzkrieg, the Nazis attacked one town after another spreading defeat and disaster everywhere.

With little time to spare Meilland took cuttings from his beloved plant and methodically packaged and shipped them throughout the world. He had no idea if they would survive. He could only hope. On one of the last planes that left France just before the Nazis gained control of the airport, one of his precious cuttings, cushioned in a diplomatic pouch, was destined for the United States.

Four long years passed. Meilland received a letter that one of his cuttings had reached a rose grower in Pennsylvania. It was ruffled and delicate. The petals were of cameo ivory and palest cream, tipped with a tinge of pink. His rose had survived. Later, on the very day Berlin fell to the allies, there was a special ceremony that took place in California. To honor the occasion, white doves were set free. After many years the fragile rose had survived the war and now received a name. It was called "Peace."

The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. We are sent out as lambs in the midst of wolves. We need few resources to be faithful followers. All we need is guts.

Keith Wagner, It Takes Guts, adapted from Chicken Soup for the Gardener’s Soul, Of War and Roses
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6)    Amazing Accomplishments

At the conclusion of a very successful capital funds campaign in a church, a wise leader from the congregation said to the pastor, "Isn't it amazing how much can get done when we don't care who gets the credit?" 

David R. Cartwright, Sermons for Sundays after Pentecost (First Third): Guided by the Spirit, CSS Publishing Company, Inc.
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7)    One of the Secrets to Success 

Andrew Tobias, the financial author put it this way. Go down any day to the waterfront, and you will find a crowd of unhappy people. Someone will be having trouble getting the motor on their yacht to crank. Someone else will be scraping barnacles. Another will be repainting. Things just don't make you happy. Property brings problems. It is like an alligator that takes a bite out of your pocket every time you turn around. Don't be burdened by too many material things. As you go through life, one of the secrets of success is to travel light. 

Unknown
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8)     Forerunners 

A forerunner prepares the way for one who is to come. John the Baptist clarified his own role and witness when he declared that he was preparing the way for the coming of one mightier than he. He was not the one of whom the Scriptures spoke, but he was important to the one who was soon to come.

When the Billy Graham Crusade comes into a city, besides being spiritually rewarding, it is an impressive undertaking because of the manner in which organizational details are carried out. Pastor Larry Powell describes one of Graham's crusades that came through Little Rock Arkansas. He said, night after night, things moved along without the slightest hitch, so far as one could tell. Vehicles moved smoothly upon city streets, parking was uncomplicated and orderly. Getting in and out of the stadium was remarkably simple. Seating was casual and made easy by polite, easily identifiable ushers. The worship services themselves included a massive volunteer choir, excellent special music, well and effective personal witnesses, challenging sermons by Dr. Graham, and the invitation to respond to the leadership of the Spirit. Counselors were available for those who chose to respond, there was follow-up on new converts, and local pastors were notified for weeks following the crusade about individuals who had indicated a religious preference. The Billy Graham Crusade accomplished a great work for the kingdom of God. But underline this one thing: without long months of preparation by the crusade team who had come as forerunners, the record would read quite differently. Having met with the team, I can confirm that they were excellent representatives for what they were promoting, proficient at what they were about, and assumed a tremendous personal responsibility for the success or failure of the mission.

Because we have named the name of Christ, you and I are forerunners of the coming kingdom.  

We pray for the grace to be good representatives of what we proclaim, proficient in our witness, and assume a personal ownership in the ultimate victory.

Adapted from Larry Powell, Blow The Silver Trumpets, CSS Publishing Company
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9)    How to Pack a Backpack 

Backpacking has taught me the value of traveling light. One seasoned hiker explained it this way. Prepare for a hike by making three piles. The first pile should contain only those things you absolutely cannot live without. In the second pile put the things you would like to have but don't have to have. Then in the third pile, put all those things that would make life on the trail a lot more comfortable but which you could get along without. This is where you put the light weight hammock, the camp chair, and your extra clean clothes. Now, discard everything that is in piles two and three, pick up the first pile and head for the woods. That is what Jesus is advising his disciples to do in today's lesson. Travel light. Don't get bogged down with too many things.

N. Fred Jordan, Jr., Keys to Success, Hickory Grove United Methodist Church
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10) Real Evangelism

If we are going to be effective in reaching people for Christ we are going to have to start showing people that we really care. Evangelism and missions must be relational in nature. There is no record of Jesus walking up to someone out of the clear blue sky and saying: I am the Messiah and then him beginning to show his care for them. No, he showed his care for them first and then he revealed himself to them.

A story is told about a man who was on a luxury liner and suddenly he falls overboard. He can't swim and in desperation he begins calling for help. Now it just so happens that there were several would be rescuers on deck who witnessed the incident. The first man was a MORALIST. When he saw the man fall overboard he immediately reached into his briefcase and pulled out a book on how to swim. He now tossed it to him and he yelled: Now brother, you read that and just follow the instructions and you will be alright. 

The man next to him happened to be an IDEALIST. When he saw the man fall overboard he immediately jumped into the water and began swimming all around the drowning man saying: Now just watch me swim. Do as I do and you will be alright. The person next to him happened to be a member of the INSTITUTIONAL CHURCH. He looked upon the drowning man's plight with deep concern. He yelled out: Now, just hold on friend. Help is on the way. We are going to establish a committee and dialogue your problem. And then, if we have come up with the proper financing, we will resolve your dilemma. 

The next man on deck happened to be a representative of the school of POSITIVE THINKING. He yelled out to the drowning man: "Friend, this situation is not nearly as bad as you think. Think dry!" The next man on board happened to be a REVIVALIST. By this time the drowning man was going down for the third time and desperately began waving his arm. Seeing that, the revivalist yelled out: Yes brother, I see that hand, is there another? Is there another? And finally, the last man on deck, was a REALIST. He immediately plunged into the water, at the risk of his own life, and pulled the victim to safety. 

My friends, the harvest is plentiful, but the WORKERS are few. We need realist in the church willing plunge into the water and go to work. 

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11) Relationship Evangelism

There is an old story told about a man by the name of Ali Facid. He had a small farm and a family. One day, the story goes, a Buddhist priest came by and said to Ali Facid: You know, there are valuable stones called diamonds, and if you get one of these you could be a wealthy man." Ali Facid went to bed that night, but the words of the old priest haunted him. He was so obsessed that he felt that he must find him one of these diamonds so that he could become a ruler. He sold his farm, put his family out to neighbors and went out to find his acres of diamonds. Months passed. He was broken in body and spirit. His funds were gone. And at the Bay of Barcelona, he threw himself into the water, never to walk this earth again.

Meanwhile, the man who bought his farm bent over one day and picked up a little stone. He laid on the mantle that night not knowing what it was. A few days later the old Buddhist priest came by and saw it and exclaimed:
“Ali Facid must be back from his search.” 
“No,” came the response.
“Then where did that diamond come from?”
The farmer replied: “I was out plowing in the garden and found it there.”
And from that very garden, came the jewels and diamonds that today adorn the crowned heads of Europe.
In Ali Facid’s own back yard there were acres of diamonds and he didn’t know it.
He threw his life away in a search for that which was under his nose the whole time.

Today’s Gospel lesson from Luke is a story about that hidden treasure.  It is a story about a treasure more valuable than money, gold, or diamonds.  It’s a treasure that is around us all the time.  How often do we miss the very treasure that God has put right before us because we are unwilling to open our eyes and see His mighty blessing? 

This treasure is not only under our noses, but all around us.  Sadly, many people go through their entire lives, and die, sad, broken, and beaten, because, much like this story’s character, Ali, they could not see the treasure in front of them.