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A Reflection on the Gospel of St Luke 10:13-16
Internet Image from Berg und Fliegen
In the Gospel today, Jesus concludes his instructions to the Seventy-two disciples who will carry the Good News to the outlying towns as He travels to Jerusalem. The number, Seventy-two, is a multiple of twelve, the number of the tribes of Israel. The Seventy-two thus, by their going forth, could represent the calling of all nations to repent and believe in the Gospel. The key point is that Jesus commissions His followers to do His, God’s, work on earth. Jesus concludes His instructions to the seventy-two with the words:
“Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me. And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me." (Luke 10:16 NABRE)
The Church, and especially its Bishops, with all their sins, weaknesses, and failings is the continuation of the Seventy-two and their mission. Note the parallels with what Jesus tells the disciples and, by extension, the Church in Matthew 28:
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19–20 NABRE)
The Church, is sent to all nations to proclaim the Gospel and Jesus promises to be with them, “until the end of the age.” The Seventy-two, just like the Twelve Disciples, also had foibles and failings. They were sinful men. Yet, our Lord trusted them with the mission. He sent them out as He journeyed to Jerusalem and gave them incredible authority to perform miracles and announce Salvation. Why? Because He is not just with them but speaking through them. This is no different for our Church today.
The word, Church, comes from the Greek word, Ekklesia, meaning “those who are called out” and forms the origin of our word, Ecclesial. Just as in Luke 10, Jesus calls out our Bishops, like the Seventy-two, to announce the Gospel as they journey with Jesus to the New Jerusalem, heaven. Christ tells us today in the Gospel to listen to them, as we would listen to Him. Though we may have questions about the teachings of the Catholic Church and its Bishops; as Catholics, we are to accept their teaching and adhere to their words in regard to faith and morals with religious assent. The Vatican II Dogmatic Constitution of the Church, Lumen Gentium (LG), puts it this way:
In matters of faith and morals, the bishops speak in the name of Christ and the faithful are to accept their teaching and adhere to it with a religious assent. This religious submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra … (LG 25)
To reject the Magisterium, the living, teaching office of the Church, is tantamount to rejecting Christ. Again, from Jesus in the Gospel today, “Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me." Jesus puts it this way to the Seventy-two:
“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would long ago have repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. And as for you, Capernaum, ‘Will you be exalted to heaven? You will go down to the netherworld.’” (Luke 10:13–15 NABRE)
To refuse the words of the Seventy-two was a more heinous sin than any transgressions of sexual morality. Even the Gentile cities of Tyre and Sidon will fare better since they can read the signs of the times. How can we then refuse, or simply ignore or set-aside, the teachings of our Bishops in matters of faith and morals when they speak in and with the authentic Magisterium?
The next time you are chagrined at the teachings of the Church, remember Jesus’ words. Do not reject them but seek to understand the teaching. At the same time, render assent to the teaching. As you hear others voice their dissatisfaction with our Bishops, remind them that though they are sinners, like the Seventy-two, we must trust, in faith, that Christ is working within them. Finally, pray for our Church and especially our Bishops. They bear a heavy responsibility as we together journey with Christ toward Jerusalem. St Paul puts it well in his letter to the Philippians:
“Do everything without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine like lights in the world, as you hold on to the word of life, so that my boast for the day of Christ may be that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.” (Philippians 2:14–15 NABRE)
In unison with our Bishops, we have an opportunity to “shine like lights in the world.” Every day is a chance to join in the mission of the Seventy-two. It may be difficult, but it is a true work of love. Heaven is at stake. If tomorrow you were accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you? Will you “shine like lights in the world”? Shine!
Berg und Fliegen. (2019, January 22). Shine. YouTube. Retrieved September 28, 2022.
Dogmatic Constitution on the Church: Lumen Gentium.” Vatican II Documents. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2011. Print.
New American Bible. Revised Edition. Washington, DC: The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2011. Print.