14th-C Sun Ordinary Time
Is 66:10-14a; Ps 66:1-20; Gal 6:14-18; Lk 10:1-12, 17-20
“Peace to this household, the Kingdom of God is at hand for you.” Don’t those words just warm your heart?
At the risk of sounding like an e-mail scam, if we could repeat those words to ourselves, and even to other people, 72 times this week, we can be pretty sure that they will have a positive impact on our lives. “Peace to this household, the Kingdom of God is at hand for you.”
You see, those were the ‘preparation’ words for something much greater to come. We might call it a “preview of coming attractions.” A little taste of the ‘works’ of a long-awaited Savior. And yet, they were also ‘a test’ to see if their recipients were worthy of His coming. Today we might call it a “marketing study.” For if they would not accept His messengers, they would surely not accept Him.
In Luke’s Gospel, it was Jesus himself who was coming. The King of peace, comfort and healing. Jesus, the ‘Author of Life’ was coming to show them how life ‘in-the-present’ should really be lived, and how wonderfully it could be lived for all eternity. Today we see a trend in the Scripture readings that’s carried throughout the Old and New Testaments, and even extends itself right into our own lives. It is a trend that has to do with faith, hope and joy.
In our first reading, the prophet Isaiah, as God’s messenger, brings a promise of comfort, prosperity and hope to a group of Israelites who had just been freed from over-70 years of slavery in Babylon. This Hope was called, “Jerusalem,” the City of Peace.
Now you can imagine, that after 70 years, very few of the returning Israelites actually ever lived in Jerusalem. All they knew of Jerusalem was what they heard about it from Stories told by their parents and grandparents. They were exiles, born and raised in a foreign land. A land where the customs were not what their Culture believed to be right, just or holy.
Yet even though they were born and grew up in that foreign place, their home, for all intent and purpose, they knew in their hearts that something was ‘just – not – right.’ So they lived their lives in faith and hope that what their parents taught them about that ‘Old-Home,’ their ‘True-Home,’ Jerusalem, would be much, much better than life in Babylon. And with Isaiah’s promise of comfort, and with Jerusalem in sight, they would rejoice in the love of their Lord, who helped carry them back to that Home in safety.
St. Paul also speaks of his life as though he was living in a foreign land. He did not accept a world that boasted of their accomplishments and personal appearances. Instead, Paul’s pride was centered on the Grace of God that allowed others to find Jesus, through his (Paul’s) sacrifices. St. Paul was truly “God’s appointed missionary!” Paul’s hope and joy, then, would be the reward of his return-back to his ‘True-Home’ with God.
And so it is with us. As exiles living in a culture not our own, even though we were born and lived our entire lives in this world, we know, by the stories of our parents and grandparents, by all the stories of the Bible, by historical proof, by scientific proof, and by the very teachings of Jesus Himself, that something is ‘just – not – right’ here, that something better is awaiting us, that this is not our ‘True-Home’ either. We know, because our hearts are longing and craving to be back Home with God. We know, because those words just resonate in our souls – “The Kingdom of God is at hand for you.” We know because Jesus, our messenger, came to prove: with His Life, and through our blessed Sacraments, and through our Church that hope and joy ARE coming. As we’ll profess in just a few moments: “We look for the Resurrection of the dead and the Life of the world to come.” “Oh Death, where is thy sting!”
All it takes on our part is a little faith, belief that the stories really are true, an open door to all of the messengers Jesus sends into our lives. And with that faith, when we commit our lives to His teachings: Love one another, Respect all life, Care for the ill and the needy and Spread His Word of peace in our world, then we too will see and do, through Jesus, those same miracles of the 72 missionaries. And we too will receive that same promise that “Our names are written in Heaven.” And we will truly be – “On the road back Home.”
“Peace to this household, the Kingdom of God is at hand for you.”