Luke 10:1-12, 17-20
Do you remember the phrase, ‘carrying a lot of baggage’? It usually refers to someone who is burdened by a lot of negative, painful memories that he/she drags through life. It could be memories of alcoholic or abusive parents, the feeling of never having been appreciated, and memories of being bullied or belittled at school, memories of betrayed trust or friendship. Whatever these memories, the person carrying them just can’t seem to drop them by the wayside and get on with living. For it’s easier said than done.
In today’s gospel Jesus sends out his 72 disciples – a reminder of the 72 helpers Moses had during the Exodus. They are to carry the message of God’s peace, love and forgiveness for all people. The gifts given them to heal and liberate would show the presence, power and care of God for all those with whom they came in contact. Jesus lets them know there is so much work to do, the harvest is so great, the labourers so few.
As Jesus sends them on their way He tells them to be baggage free – no purse, no bag, no sandals, don’t clutter up your lives, in fact don’t even stop to talk with anyone – keep moving, you’ve got work to do.
You’ve probably heard the saying, ‘don’t keep the faith, spread the faith.’ We can add to this, don’t keep the faith, live the faith and by so doing you will spread the faith.’ Jesus tells us that our light – the way we live our Christian faith – must shine before others so that they may see our good works and give glory to God.
Everyone of us is meant to share our Christian faith by the way we live our lives – we are meant to be distinctive, we are meant to live and value things like integrity, honesty, respect for people of different races, cultures, faiths. We are meant to care about social justice, we are meant to care about homeless men, women and children, and we are meant to see an end to good people surviving on food banks. These are what we call ‘gospel values’, they spring from the life and teachings of Jesus and the prophets before Him.
Every day of the week Jesus sends each one of us out to be a witness of God’s love and care for all people and we do this in the ordinary living of our ordinary lives.
We do this best if we are baggage free, like the 72 are baggage free. Free of the baggage of bigotry and prejudice, that keeps us from acknowledging the good to be found in all faiths. We best do this when we are free of the baggage of intolerance that keeps us locked up in our own certainties failing to respecting the rights of people to hold other points of view and see our certainties differently.
We do this best if we are free of the conviction that we have a corner on the teachings of the church on controversial issues and refrain from judging good people we call ‘pick and choose’ Catholics. We do this best if we are free of a need to spread certain private devotions and practices instead of focusing on the importance of the Eucharist and the Sacraments. We do this best if in all our dealings with people we meet in the course of a day we do our best to live Christ’s great commandment, ‘love one another as I have loved you’.
As we continue this Mass we can pray for ourselves and for one another that we will begin each day conscious of the fact that Christ is sending us out to friend and stranger to bear witness to the truth that God so loved the world He sent His Son to the world and the Son so loved us, He gave His life for us. May each of us be gifted to live this Mass outside these walls in the lives we live, the work we do, the prayers we pray and the service we give.