Fourteenth Sunday of the Year Is 66:10-14; Gal 6:14-18; Lk 10:1-12 & 17-20 (Year C)
“Rejoice for Jerusalem. Rejoice for her, all you who mourned her. For thus says the Lord: like a son comforted by his mother will I comfort you, and by Jerusalem you will be comforted. At the sight your heart will rejoice, and your bones flourish like the grass.”
The words of the Prophet Isaiah struggled to express the tenderness and compassion of God’s unfolding love. A history of infidelity, violence and destruction had left Israel abandoned and unloved. Oppressed people throughout the world continue to suffer the same abandonment. The darkness of depression and a sense of worthlessness haunts the many victims of our outwardly affluent society. To these, and to everyone unloved in our broken world, the Good News remains the same. In Christ we are held, healed and sustained in a tenderness beyond our imagining. It is here, in the words of Isaiah, that we are carried and fondled as a mother’s child.
The Good News of the Gospel is proclaimed in many different ways, but at its heart is always a compassion that reaches beyond words. We, like the 72 disciples dispatched to prepare a way for the Lord, must become the face of that compassion.
The original 72 were to carry neither purse nor haversack; the Lord’s unspoken presence would be their security and assurance. Their first words were to be words of peace rather than words of condemnation and division. They were to eat whatever was set before them, embracing every aspect of the lives of those who welcomed them. They were not to move from house to house, but, by their enduring presence, become living signs of God’s unchanging love.
Pope Francis has described mercy and compassion as the most attractive face of the Church. Sadly the beauty of this face is frequently disfigured with the petty divisions and judgments that so easily divide us.
Long ago St Paul faced bitter divisions in the church of Galatia. Let us pray for the humility to hear his proposals. What matters is not the strength with which we hold any conviction, but the willingness with which we surrender ourselves and our convictions to Christ.
“It does not matter if a person is circumcised or not; what matters is for him to become an altogether new creation.” It is in Christ alone that we become the Father’s new creation. May we also become the face of his love and compassion.