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EVANGELIZATION AND MATERIALISM

Read­ing Time: 10 minutes

(Ref. Texts: Isa 66:10–14; Gal 6:14–18; Luke10:1–12.17–20)

Con­stantly expos­ing your­self to pop­u­lar cul­ture and the mass media will ulti­mately shape your real­ity tun­nel in ways that are not neces­sar­ily con­du­cive to achiev­ing your Soul Pur­pose and Life Call­ing. Mod­ern soci­ety has gen­er­ally ‘lost the plot.’ Slav­ishly fol­low­ing its false gods and idols makes no sense in a spir­itu­ally aware life.” “Any­thing you can­not relin­quish when it has out­lived its use­ful­ness pos­sesses you, and in this mater­i­al­ist­ic age a great many of us are pos­sessed by our possessions.”

Introduction

Last Sunday Gos­pel read­ing ended with the dis­cern­ing of dis­ciples and the cost of dis­ciple­ship (cf. Luke 9:57–62). In this Sunday read­ing, Jesus makes sev­enty-two of his dis­ciples exper­i­ence the pros and cons of dis­ciple­ship and of pro­claim­ing the Gos­pel. Though not indic­ated, but these sev­enty-two dis­ciples must have under­stood bet­ter Jesus’ words that “foxes have dens and the birds in the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head” (Luke 9:58). They must have also learnt that the pro­clam­a­tion of the Good News has abso­lute pre­ced­ence over every oth­er and over every per­son­al interest and fam­ily tie.

There­fore, after the cla­ri­fic­a­tion of the dif­fi­culties of dis­ciple­ship, Jesus imme­di­ately appoints and sends 72 people to go ahead of him to every town and place he plans to vis­it, pro­claim­ing that the King­dom of God is at hand. Jesus acknow­ledges it will not be an easy mis­sion and, that he is send­ing them out like lambs among wolves. Non­ethe­less, they are to bring noth­ing with them. They are to greet no one on the way so as not to be dis­trac­ted from their mis­sion. When they enter a house, their mes­sage should simply be ‘peace.’ The response they will receive may be pos­it­ive or neg­at­ive. Either way, they should make the people know the King­dom of God is at hand. They are not to demand spe­cial treat­ment but eat and drink whatever is presen­ted to them. They are to stay in one house and are not per­mit­ted to move from place to place look­ing for a bet­ter accommodation.

The sending in twos

The Lord appoin­ted sev­enty-two oth­ers and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he him­self was about to go” (Luke 10:1). Luke notes that these sev­enty-two dis­ciples were sent out two-by-two. In the Gos­pel accord­ing to Mark (cf. 6:7–13), the author records that those that were sent out in twos were the Twelve. This should not sur­prise us because Mark and Luke developed their theo­logy dif­fer­ently. Beside the Twelve apostles, Luke deemed it neces­sary to send out oth­er dis­ciples in pairs, some­thing not neces­sary for the Twelve who had no need for any wit­ness, hav­ing been with Jesus. The send­ing out in pairs is prob­ably to bol­ster cred­ib­il­ity by hav­ing the testi­mony of more than one wit­ness as stip­u­lated by the law (cf. Deut 17:6; 19:15). Anoth­er reas­on for this trav­el­ling in twos is prob­ably because it was more safe to travel in the com­pany of anoth­er, than trav­el­ling alone. Dis­ciples should keep them­selves com­pany as they pro­claim the Gospel.

Much harvest, few labourers

He said to them, the har­vest is plen­ti­ful, but the labour­ers are few; there­fore, ask the Lord of the har­vest to send out labour­ers into his har­vest” (Luke 10:2). Hav­ing sent out the Twelve apostles (cf. Luke 9:1–6), Jesus deemed it neces­sary to send out oth­er sev­enty-two dis­ciples to facil­it­ate the pro­clam­a­tion of the Gos­pel and the accom­pan­ied phys­ic­al and spir­itu­al heal­ings. By remind­ing them that the har­vest is much while labour­ers are few, and implor­ing them to pray that God sends labour­ers to His har­vest, Jesus explains to them the reas­on for send­ing them. Since the Twelve can­not spread the Gos­pel alone, it became neces­sary to send these oth­er sev­enty-two dis­ciples. Even this num­ber is not enough, hence, the sense of the request to pray for more labour­ers. And today, you and I are those oth­er labour­ers needed for the har­vest. How are we going about it?

I am send­ing you out like sheep in the midst of wolves is an instruc­tion on how to go about the mis­sion of the pro­clam­a­tion of the Gos­pel, and the per­se­cu­tion, rejec­tion, and ridicul­ing the dis­ciples are to endure. The allu­sion to lambs implies that the dis­ciples should not employ force in announ­cing the Gos­pel. The pro­clam­a­tion of the mes­sage of life must be done in such a way that people should respond freely and will­ingly.[1] People should not be coerced to accept the Gos­pel mes­sage. Like seed, the dis­ciples should plant the word of life, and allow it to ger­min­ate. A genu­ine reli­gious com­mit­ment should not be by com­pul­sion. In Mat­thew 10:16 we read “I am send­ing you out like sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as ser­pents and inno­cent as doves.” While the ser­pent is the sym­bol of shrewd­ness and intel­lec­tu­al cun­ning (cf. Gen 3:1; Ps 58:4–5), the dove sig­ni­fies inno­cence (cf. Hos 7:11). The dis­ciples should pos­sess these qual­it­ies. They should be harm­less, wise and inno­cent as far as their mis­sion is con­cerned. How­ever, being harm­less and inno­cent does not mean they should be fool­ish. In their harm­less­ness and inno­cence, they should be guided by wis­dom. They should be humble, not weak.

Beware of materialism

Take no purse with you, no haver­sack, no san­dals” (Luke 10:4a). It was D. Hor­ton who noted that “mater­i­al­ism is the only form of dis­trac­tion from true bliss.” The instruc­tions on what to take and what not to take for their mis­sion is almost the same with that giv­en to the Twelve apostles. Car­ry­ing no purse, no haver­sack, no (extra) san­dals, and no staff, are on the same line with leav­ing the dead to bury their own dead (cf. Luke 9:60); and not being suit­able again for the king­dom of God after put­ting hands in the plow and look­ing back (cf. Luke 9:62). A dis­ciple must not give room to any form of distraction.

Fur­ther­more, the Gos­pel must be announced with sim­pli­city. By not allow­ing them to take the above-lis­ted items, Jesus wanted and still wants the dis­ciples to be free from mater­i­al attach­ment, a bur­den to the dis­ciple and a ser­i­ous hindrance to the mis­sion of the dis­ciple. They should only equip them­selves with spir­itu­al qual­it­ies because the people they are sent to, will provide their mater­i­al needs includ­ing accom­mod­a­tions. In the words of O. Gold­smith, “our chief com­forts often pro­duce our greatest anxi­et­ies, and the increase in our pos­ses­sions is but an inlet to new dis­quiet­udes.” Hence, the dis­ciples should off-load their minds of every mater­i­al dependence.

That Jesus sent out oth­er sev­enty-two dis­ciples after send­ing the Twelve apostles, indic­ates that evan­gel­iz­a­tion is not a sole respons­ib­il­ity of the Twelve. No mat­ter the num­ber of cler­ics in the vari­ous Chris­ti­an Churches, the faith­ful can­not be left out in the pro­clam­a­tion and propaga­tion of the Gos­pel. Today, the mis­sion of announ­cing the Gos­pel has taken dif­fer­ent and diverse forms. How­ever, the heart of the mes­sage can­not be altered.

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