October 18, 2013

The Gospel Today 

Feast of Saint Luke, Evangelist

Luke 10:1-9

The Lord Jesus appointed seventy-two disciples
whom he sent ahead of him in pairs
to every town and place he intended to visit.
He said to them,
“The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few;
so ask the master of the harvest
to send out laborers for his harvest.
Go on your way;
behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves.
Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals;
and greet no one along the way.
Into whatever house you enter,
first say, ‘Peace to this household.’
If a peaceful person lives there,
your peace will rest on him;
but if not, it will return to you.
Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you,
for the laborer deserves payment.
Do not move about from one house to another.
Whatever town you enter and they welcome you,
eat what is set before you,
cure the sick in it and say to them,
‘The Kingdom of God is at hand for you.’”

Reflection (Sem. Alfredo Dimaano):

          The Gospel today speaks of the sending of the seventy-two disciples into a mission to proclaim the Kingdom of God.

          It rings to my mind our recent weekend prison apostolate. This semester, I and a brother were sent to New Bilibid Prison (NBP). Prior to visiting the inmates at the maximum security compound, there was a briefing conducted by the volunteer at the Chaplaincy Office on the Do’s and Don’ts inside NBP. From all the reminders that he shared, striking for me was his final one: “Bring the love and presence of Christ to them.” This statement, I believe, captures the message of discipleship. Wherever I am, I am called to give myself through genuine concern to the people I meet and with the task I am entrusted with so the presence of Christ may be felt through me. Whenever we are inside, we would always engage in some worthwhile conversation with them, listen to their personal stories, struggles, fears, frustrations, and even their hopes. What had been demanded of us is to bring the love of Jesus to them by lending an ear emphatically and not judging or condemning them of their past. The whole experience has given me a paradigm shift towards how I perceive those behind bars and to look beyond their criminal cases or tattoos covering their skin. After all, like me, they too are God’s image and likeness, loved and treasured by the Lord.

          St. Luke, the evangelist whose feast we celebrate today, chronicled most of Christ’s mission to bring hope and salvation to man, such that Blessed Pope John II had called it the “Gospel of Mercy”. Discipleship is to bring Christ to people and that love is best manifested through mercy that brings forth peace. Jesus instructed His disciples to carry no material things, but only the “peace” of Christ in the houses they visit. An assurance of my prayers and taps of encouragement to the inmates were my ways of bringing that peace to them. Condemning them or be treated as if they are of lower importance is far from Jesus’ way of discipleship. Only with a heart willing to show compassion and open to accept the imperfection of one’s self and others can the mission become more fulfilling.  Discipleship is to let God be known by His other names such as Love, Compassion and Mercy.

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