Go on your way!

Reading           Luke 10: 1-12, 17-20


The Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs

 to every town and place where he himself intended to go. 

 He said to them… Go on your way. 

 See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves.

 Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals…

Whenever you enter a town and its people do not welcome you…

shake the dust of that town off your feet and move on...”




There are several incidences throughout Jesus’ public ministry where He takes his own aside – today it is those first 70 disciples - to instruct them personally in the way of discipleship.  Today’s Gospel account is his teaching on the inevitability of persecution for the Christian disciple.  “You will be betrayed by your own…you will be hated, despised, rejected…you will be dragged in before councils, handed over, chased from town to town, persecuted… all because of your being like Me.”

It’s inevitable, for it seems that the more God penetrates within an individual, a town, a village, a community - the more the Spirit of Jesus takes hold and starts to activate against the unlove and the injustices in one’s environment. The evidence of this is: one can observe that the more the forces of evil emerge to resist, to oppose, to struggle against the good, a tension is created. Jesus says to his 70 disciples:  “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves.” This is the strong imagery Jesus uses to capture the intensity, passion and vulnerability of his disciple’s ministry. However, if you keep mindful that it is I sending you out as sheep among wolves that will make all the difference. There is no discipleship without this relationship to the person of Jesus, the Christ.

Discipleship, mature Christian discipleship is very costly.  It is a radical following, a total commitment to the summoning Person of Jesus.  Disciples grow to be like their Master and this growth, this totality of giving in response, is a long and arduous process demanding ever deeper faith and more openness to the Spirit.  He is fashioning each one of us into his disciple.  We too are learning discipleship from the Master, being taught gradually, lesson by lesson from the Teacher abiding within. 



At times, Jesus calls us apart into solitude to instruct us in the ways of discipleship.  He encourages our feeble loving responses. He is patient with our stumbling efforts. He prepares us in advance for the future ‘cross’, whatever that is to be for each one of us. And all the while, he remains constant in His fidelity and love. And when the 70 return to share with him the experience of his power and authority working through them, he shares in their rejoicing and points them to an even greater joy – “their names are written in heaven.”  I dare to believe that this means we too are part of the reign of God even here and now.  



Discipleship takes a long time.  It is the work of a lifetime, for it is a work of intimate love. As we spoke earlier, the Latin root of ‘disciple’ means ‘to grasp’, ‘to take hold of’ and a disciple of Christ has been grasped in love.  Only the attraction, the intensity and the perfection of the love relationship can make each sacrifice a joy.  Only love can choose the Cross.  Each decision to be identified with Him becomes more costly – it may eventually cost us our life, but the mature disciple, like Paul, rejoices that “he is counted worthy to share in the sufferings of Christ.”



Discipleship is to walk in the way of Love Himself.  He was scorned, despised, rejected, betrayed "by those he called His friends.”  He journeyed to Calvary and died nailed to a cross, loving, forgiving, and pardoning his executioners: “Father forgive them…” How is  the disciple to conduct oneself in times of persecution? Like master, like disciple. One’s relationship with one’s persecutors is to be the same as Jesus: pray for them, love them, and do good to them.  St John of the Cross speaking out of his final hour says: “Where there is no love, put love, and you will draw out love.”  John of the Cross witnesses to being a faithful disciple even as his Carmelite Order is planning his exile.



Those truly suffering persecution for the sake of Christ can feel in their hearts no violence, retaliation, apathy or self-pity – the pain suffered is Love’s pain.  It is not just done to the disciple, but to one’s Beloved.  “He who rejects you, rejects Me, and he who despises you, despises Me.”  The closer the bond, the likeness, the deeper the relationship, the more one suffers with Love. Being oned with each other these are Love’s wounds suffered.



In this maturity of self-sacrificing love, Jesus says that there is no need to worry about what you are to say or to do – because the Spirit of Jesus so living in you will be the one speaking for you. Hold fast, steadfast, to love, keep your focus. Fortitude, strength and endurance will be given. And this Jesus proclaims is beatitude living: “How happy are those who are persecuted in the cause of right, for these already possess God.”



Some twenty centuries ago, Jesus summoned 70 committed persons and sent them off in pairs of two to communicate the message of God’s love and be peacemakers in a troubled world. “Go on your way.” He said to them. These ordinary people took with them no great plan or how-to manual. No, they knew they were being sent by Jesus with such a ‘little plan’ - a petit design d’amour - and off they went, living in great simplicity and freedom mixed in like leaven within their families and neighbourhoods. Across the globe to this very day there are several thousands of these disciples quietly championing for change, for an explosion of Love to manifest within this earth community.



Just last evening we heard of a new television CBC News Feature just being introduced called Champions for Change. This series will gather up the stories of wonderful volunteers across this land who are faithfully,and often with great sacrifice and passion, contributing to creating better neighborhoods, cleaner more sustainable environments, more friendly, kindlier homes, hospitals, schools, shelters and churches etc.  Such ‘Good News’ must spread! Can you name some of your ‘champions’ this week? Let us start the conversation and share the stories of how those we know, our present day“ champions for change”  - are increasing and multiplying and changing the world, bringing about the ‘reign of God’ in our times!   


Carrying Grace     I will live and cherish the Little Way – whether things go well or badly.



#4 arletteh 2010-07-05 02:04
We have been "grasped" , "seized" by Love! Simplicity calls me,the inviting Voice.Thus, what a balm to the heart,to be on my way,following the "Little Way" of every day loving,small demands,or large demands.It is Love loving through us in them all!Love is there to make the sacrifices possible,and even,to make them a joy!May summer call us to simplicity, we pray,dear Jesus!Thank you all for reminding me,and we, each other, of this!
#3 Mark Dickinson 2010-07-05 01:18
[for a deeper exploration of this special theme, I recommend the book: "The Heart of Christianity: Rediscovering a Life of Faith - How We Can Be Passionate Believers Today" by marcus j. borg]
#2 Mark Dickinson 2010-07-05 01:14
We are accepted by God.
Can the heart of Christianity be any more simpler??
#1 Mark Dickinson 2010-07-05 01:13
Like no other passage in Scripture .. this passage (and Rosemary's message) touches each of us PERSONALLY as it speaks of the Heart of Christianity. As the disciples crossed the region and spoke about Jesus and the Kingdom of God .. they shared a Way of Life concerned not with privilege, but with compassion -- compassion for "the least of these".
Love and Compassion must always be at the heart of discipleship ... it's more than belief, it's more than promises, it's more than ideology. It is a Way of Life .. a way of knowing God, of knowing His Love, His Presence, His Purpose. Ultimately, however, the Kingdom of God always exceeds our grasp ... we can see only glimpses of God in our present life. True Unity -- our complete union with God -- is our ultimate path -- a path that we will one day walk as we move from one life, to another. Until that moment, we move and live as disciples knowing that:
We are created by God.
We are a child of God.
We are beloved by God.
We are accepted by God.
Can the heart of Christianity be any more simpler??

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