A Sunday School teacher of preschoolers was concerned that his students might be a little confused about Jesus Christ because of the Christmas season emphasis on His birth. He wanted to make sure they understood that the birth of Jesus occurred a long time ago, that He grew up, etc. So he asked his class, “Where is Jesus today?” Johnny raised his hand and said, “He’s in heaven.” Mary was called on and answered, “He’s in my heart.” And Robert, waving his hand furiously, blurted out, “I know! I know! He’s in our bathroom!!!” The whole class got very quiet, looked at the teacher, and waited for a response. The teacher was completely at a loss for a few very long seconds. He finally gathered his wits and asked Robert how he knew this. And Robert said, “Well….every morning my father gets up, bangs on the bathroom door, and yells ‘Jesus Christ, are you still in there?’!
In today’s gospel Jesus gives, travel tips for the seventy-two walking witnesses on their first mission trip: While all the synoptic Gospels mention a mission of the Twelve, only Luke adds a second mission of the 72. Just as Moses selected the seventy-two elders to guide and govern his people, so Luke presents Jesus as the “new Moses” in today’s Gospel. Jesus sends out his seventy-two disciples to towns and villages to announce his visit, thus giving a symbolic meaning to the number seventy-two. The Jews also believed that there were seventy-two nations in the whole world, and they had seventy-two members in the Sanhedrin, the supreme council of the Jews.
Today I just want you to pay attention to the opening verses of the gospel: “The Lord appointed seventy-two others whom he sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit.” The disciples were told to travel in pairs (perhaps for mutual support), suggesting that the work of evangelization should be a collective one.
The work of evangelization should be a collective effort in our parish community not just be the Bishop and priest alone. As Jesus sends the seventy-two other disciples to preach His word of salvation, He also calls each one of us to share in the task of evangelization. Whatever be our situation and status in life, whether we are parents, teachers, employees, employers, professionals or students, we are also being sent by Christ to be missionaries of His word of salvation. It is wrong to say that preaching the word belongs exclusively to nuns, priests and bishops, religious brothers or sisters.
The Vatican II document (Apostolicam Actuositatem no. 6) says: “There are innumerable opportunities open to the laity for the exercise of their apostolate of making the gospel known and men holy. The very testimony of their Christian lives and good works done in a supernatural spirit have the power to draw men to belief and to God.”
In the light of our new collaborative model that we begin today, our both parishes should learn to work together, accept each other as brothers and sisters of the Lord, who share the meal from the same Eucharistic table the Body and Blood of Christ and be a witness to Jesus Christ both in word and in deed. I’ll try my best to be a good pastor to both parishes St. Joseph in Watervliet and Immaculate Conception in Hartford I look forward to your full cooperation as well. I thank Fr. German who will be helping us as well.
Announcing the Good News of the kingdom is not something optional for a Christian. The disciples received instructions as to how they were to carry out their mission. The basic idea behind Jesus’ instruction is that his disciples were sent as walking witnesses, and, hence, they were not to depend on anything or anybody except on the Holy Spirit of God and on Divine providence.
“This weekend will we join with our entire Nation in celebrating our most special national holiday, Independence Day/the Fourth of July. These are days of global anxiety and worry in the face of ongoing terroristic attacks, both in other parts of the world, but also with great concerns for our own safety. As we pledge our allegiance to the United States, let us truly focus on the most important part of that pledge: “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” May we truly remember, and recommit ourselves to, our national motto “In God we trust”. Our national freedoms, especially the freedom to practice and live our faith, were won for us at great costs, and must be protected and defended. In the midst of our Fourth of July picnics and parades, our welcome receptions, and all our other weekend activities, may we keep our eyes and our hearts on what truly matters and is of lasting value.” – Bishop Paul Bradley.