The Gospel of the Day – 2016.07.03
The Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them out ahead of him, in pairs, to all the towns and places he himself was to visit. He said to them, ‘The harvest is rich but the labourers are few, so ask the Lord of the harvest to send labourers to his harvest. Start off now, but remember, I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Carry no purse, no haversack, no sandals. Salute no one on the road.
‘Whatever house you go into, let your first words be, “Peace to this house!” And if a man of peace lives there, your peace will go and rest on him; if not, it will come back to you. Stay in the same house, taking what food and drink they have to offer, for the labourer deserves his wages; do not move from house to house.
‘Whenever you go into a town where they make you welcome, eat what is set before you. Cure those in it who are sick, and say, “The kingdom of God is very near to you.” But whenever you enter a town and they do not make you welcome, go out into its streets and say, “We wipe off the very dust of your town that clings to our feet, and leave it with you. Yet be sure of this: the kingdom of God is very near.” I tell you, on that day it will not go as hard with Sodom as with that town.’
The seventy-two came back rejoicing. ‘Lord,’ they said ‘even the devils submit to us when we use your name.’ He said to them, ‘I watched Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Yes, I have given you power to tread underfoot serpents and scorpions and the whole strength of the enemy; nothing shall ever hurt you. Yet do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you; rejoice rather that your names are written in heaven.’
The Gospel of the day reads with a quality that reminds of a recruitment manual, there are heavy notes of propaganda, it is filled with mythology. The honest reader has no choice but to regard it as a false narrative.
The propaganda begins with the formal address of Lord, the appellation given to Jesus; who was not a lord or a king of any kind.
The first paragraph concludes with a statement of need. It tells the reader that there is much work to do, but not enough people to do it. It is a statement of need. The movement needs people, but not just any people; it needs people who are able to work covertly, to pass as lambs among the wolves. It needs people of the utmost discretion; people who are able to work without drawing attention to themselves.
It needs special people, and the reader might be one of them.
The people who carry out this mission will be taken care of, this is the promise, they will be fed, they will be housed. The Gospel tells them to stay with those who are willing to give, when they find those people remain with them.
The third paragraph promises the recruits special powers; the ability to cure the sick, and the ordinary power to bear witness against the inhospitable.
In the fourth paragraph, again those special powers are confirmed; the reader is told that if they accept the mission, the will not only be able to cure, ad condemn, but that even devils will bow to them, and that neither serpents nor scorpions can hurt them, and that their names will be written, like those of the heroes; in the stars.
14th Sunday in Ordinary Time