In the Gospel today, we see Jesus sending out the Twelve for a brief internship. For support, he sent them out in two’s. He also gave them power over unclean spirits.
I find this missioning quite remarkable because the passage immediately before this one gives an account of a terrible experience Jesus had when he visited his hometown. The town folk rejected him. In Luke’s Gospel we’re told that they even tried to throw him off a cliff! It seems he shrugged it off, and continued instructing the disciples in preparation for their first trial run as his colleagues in ministry.
He asked them to bring with them nothing but a walking stick. He cautioned them not to be shocked if they were rejected. It happened to him; it would most likely happen to them, too.
“So they went off and preached repentance. The Twelve drove out many demons, and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.” They were a great success! I’m sure Jesus was so pleased to hear of their success that he threw a party when they returned!
I think of the founder of my Order, St. Peter Julian Eymard, when I read this passage. In the many letters he wrote, he can be heard instructing his colleagues along a broad spiritual path. His ministry involved prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, and reaching out to people who were in need, both physically and spiritually. In a spiritually starved France he prepared many adults for their first communion. Like Jesus, his ministry wasn’t always easy. On one occasion, while he was ministering to the rag pickers of Paris, he was actually attacked by an anticlerical crowd who tried to drown him in the river! But nothing stopped him from continuing his ministry to the people he loved. He strengthened his vocation by opening his heart in prayer before the Eucharistic Jesus.
In this church, dedicated to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, we’re continually encouraged to take the mystery of the Eucharist in our lives. We meet Jesus in our prayer, and strengthen our discipleship and ministry by sharing the bread of life with our brothers and sisters at the Eucharistic celebration. Just like the Twelve, we’ve been commissioned to carry on the mission of Jesus. The clear and gentle witness of our everyday faith, and the fervor of our prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, is a witness to Jesus who, through us, continues to minister to the crowds who are like “sheep without a shepherd”
Father in heaven, please give me the strength of perseverance as I work to be a dedicated disciple of Jesus. My all my actions bring you praise. May I never work for my greater glory, but may I devote myself totally to Jesus and his life-giving ministry of love and healing.