Sunday, July 4, 2010

Let All The Earth Cry Out To God With Joy!

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reading I
Isaiah 66:10-14c
Thus says the LORD:
Rejoice with Jerusalem
and be glad because of her,
all you who love her;
exult, exult with her,
all you who were mourning over her!
Oh, that you may suck fully
of the milk of her comfort,
that you may nurse with delight
at her abundant breasts!
For thus says the LORD:
Lo, I will spread prosperity over Jerusalem like a river,
and the wealth of the nations like an overflowing torrent.
As nurslings, you shall be carried in her arms,
and fondled in her lap;
as a mother comforts her child,
so will I comfort you;
in Jerusalem you shall find your comfort.

When you see this, your heart shall rejoice
and your bodies flourish like the grass;
the LORD's power shall be known to his servants.
+++    +++    +++    +++
Psalm 66
Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
Shout joyfully to God, all the earth,
sing praise to the glory of his name;
proclaim his glorious praise.
Say to God, "How tremendous are your deeds!"
Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
"Let all on earth worship and sing praise to you,
sing praise to your name!"
Come and see the works of God,
his tremendous deeds among the children of Adam.
Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
He has changed the sea into dry land;
through the river they passed on foot;
therefore let us rejoice in him.
He rules by his might forever.
Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
Hear now, all you who fear God, while I declare
what he has done for me.
Blessed be God who refused me not
my prayer or his kindness!
Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
+++    +++    +++    +++   
Reading II
Galatians 6:14-18
Brothers and sisters:
May I never boast except
in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,
through which the world has been crucified to me,
and I to the world.
For neither does circumcision mean anything,
nor does uncircumcision,
but only a new creation.
Peace and mercy be to all who follow this rule
and to the Israel of God.

From now on, let no one make troubles for me;
for I bear the marks of Jesus on my body.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit,
brothers and sisters. Amen.
Luke 10:1-12, 17-20
At that time the Lord appointed seventy-two others
whom he sent ahead of him in pairs
to every town and place he intended to visit.
He said to them,
"The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few;
so ask the master of the harvest
to send out laborers for his harvest.
Go on your way;
behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves.
Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals;
and greet no one along the way.
Into whatever house you enter, first say,
'Peace to this household.'
If a peaceful person lives there,
your peace will rest on him;
but if not, it will return to you.
Stay in the same house
and eat and drink what is offered to you,
for the laborer deserves his payment.
Do not move about from one house to another.
Whatever town you enter and they welcome you,
eat what is set before you,
cure the sick in it and say to them,
'The kingdom of God is at hand for you.'
Whatever town you enter and they do not receive you,
go out into the streets and say,
'The dust of your town that clings to our feet,
even that we shake off against you.'
Yet know this: the kingdom of God is at hand.
I tell you,it will be more tolerable for Sodom
on that day than for that town."

The seventy-two returned rejoicing, and said,
"Lord, even the demons are subject to us
because of your name."
Jesus said, "I have observed Satan fall
like lightning from the sky.
Behold, I have given you the power
to 'tread upon serpents' and scorpions
and upon the full force of the enemy
and nothing will harm you.
Nevertheless, do not rejoice
because the spirits are subject to you,
but rejoice because your names are written in heaven."
There is almost a Third-Sunday of Advent spirit about today’s First Reading, It begins with a shout to rejoice over the city of Jerusalem. The holy temple has been rebuilt and she is a city now for comfort. Earlier in the same chapter there begins the theme of motherly images of God’s creating or giving new birth to Jerusalem. Now her sons can find comfort and nourishment in her intimate presence.

There had been mourning at the destruction of the holy in Jerusalem and the idolatrous practices performed there. Now her children can return and reverence once more the glorious city of peace which its name bespeaks. Her children will be comforted and prepared for service and revelation of that same glorious God. Nursing children do not stay forever in their mother’s arms nor do they rest comfortably on their mother’s laps. The prophecy is meant to announce that God is back in town and all are meant to return, remember and respond to being so loved.

We will be listening to verses from this chapter in Luke’s Gospel for the next three weekends. I would call this the “Attitude” section of Luke’s Gospel. Just to exaggerate a little bit, if the disciples are the first priests then the “seventy-two” who are sent out at the beginning of this reading are the lay people who are likewise sent. They are given power without the tools of power. They are invited to live a strange way of trusting without possessing anything except trust in the Sender. They receive instructions, but the basic call is to extend the Kingdom of God to others by being a blessing from God.

There is a quick scene-change and the Big Seventy-two return rejoicing in all they had done. It seems they were surprised at how successful they had been. They extended peace, shook off dust from their not being welcomed and they had cured the sick, just as Jesus was doing. They had power even over the demons because of the name of Jesus. In all their excitement, Jesus reminds them that their real joy is not in what they had done, but that God knows who they are and all they have done. This is all quite a call to their readjusting their attitudes of who they are.

Somehow I feel something akin to what Jesus was feeling as His lay-associates returned. Our Christian Church began with people receiving a Spirit, an identity and a mission. Structures were formed of course which is natural and distinctions were made. Slowly the laity were given the image of being led like sheep or something. The Vatican Council II began the slow shift of attitude among the shepherds and the sheep. We were invited to be the People of God on a pilgrimage of faith and together. As I wrote last week, I entered the Jesuits fifty years ago, three years before the Council. What changes have occurred since then! What changes haven’t as well as of yet.

In most churches there are commissioned men and women who actually distribute Holy Communion -- imagine that fifty years ago. A married deacon witnessed recently a wedding during a Eucharistic liturgy I celebrated -- imagine that fifty years ago. Conferences of Catholic bishops consult lay people who are theologians and not just male types either and just imagine that fifty years ago. The Church rejoices mostly, with how the Spirit is forming, rebuilding the “New” Seventy-Two, the new people to be blessed and distributed. I can imagine that some of those early Seventy-Two had some attitude adjustments taking place. They were asked just to get going, taking not much, not feeling much about themselves and had some hard confronting and risking to do. They might even have had to insult the religious leaders and experience rejection, imagine that. Fifty years is not a long time for changing senses of identities when those initial identities had been formed for over a thousand years. They were a brave and trusting lot. Like their Teacher, they were going out like lambs among wolves. Imagine that!

The Church’s daughters and sons are seeking her comfort and care as they re-find their places in her lap. As with the children returning to Jerusalem, who are nourished for service, so our lay sisters and brothers need the nourishment for the activities to which the Council and the Spirit are calling them. Consolations and comforts are wonderful. We have all been given gifts and the grace to rely on the Giver and Sender. Our names are all written in heaven alongside the martyrs and saints who have gone and done before us. Rejoice! Rejoice, because we could not have imagined what has happened in these past fifty years nor can we imagine what the Spirit will be up to in the next fifty. Bring it on!

This day here in the United States of America is known as “The Fourth”. It is our Independence Day and it is amazing how many other countries have days of freedom from their being dominated by other nations. I am not totally convinced that all our citizens know the reason for our celebrating with parades, picnics and fireworks. It was a long time ago and freedom is such a comfortable word on the tongue that we assume everybody has it or we are working to get it for them.

Freedom is what Jesus came to offer us, worked hard to bring about for us. We have so many delightful and attractive dependencies that seem to offer freedom for us. Addictions seem to offer us relief and freedom from other things bothering us, at least we are liberated from those. As we prepare for the celebration of Christ’s freeing us, we might check to see if there are any dominating fears, memories, expectations, regrets or grudges which are addictively imprisoning our spirits. He came that we might have life and for Jesus, life is freedom for as well as freedom from. We might pray as well for the more wealthy and powerful countries to bring about the blessings of peace with Justice for All.

Larry Gillick, S.J.
Deglman Center for Ignatian Spirituality
Daily Reflection
Creighton University's Online Ministries

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