Today’s Thoughts: In order to get a better grasp of our first reading today from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, we have to consider the importance of the Temple in Jerusalem. This building complex was the dwelling place of God and the central reminder of God’s fidelity. It was the foremost symbol of Israel as God’s Chosen People. They were what the Temple said they were. It became the celebration place for their identity, their history and their future.
In our first reading we are listening to verses from the final chapter of Isaiah. It is a complicated and lengthy series of poems, oracles, threats, history and songs of comfort and support. What we encounter today is one such oracle calling out hope and rebirth to the nation Israel.
The Temple has been rebuilt after exile and so the identity of the nation is reborn. The verse immediately before our reading, pictures God in a conception/birth posture which leads to the maternal rejoicing of our reading.
The Temple itself is in a maternal posture giving birth and consoling nourishment. The presence of God is again a blessing for all, who like young children, sit on their mother’s lap and are comforted with the motherly gestures of faithful love. Those who find life and strength from such nourishment will live their lives as faithful children in service to their loving God.
In our Gospel we hear what we might call a “pep talk” or a coach’s half time speech by Jesus. As Moses selected seventy elders to guide and govern his people, so Luke images Jesus as a Moses, sending out seventy-two disciples to make known his coming. Jesus’ challenge to them is that they are to depend on nothing nor anybody, but on the Spirit with which Jesus sends them. We hear of their joyous return and excited report of all they had done and seen.
Jesus receives their report and reminds them that what they experienced was a direct result of their relationship with God. They belong to God and are dependent on him for their identity. In other words, they cannot go it alone. They must let go and let God.
Jesus is the “kingdom of God” which is close at hand. The ones sent are how that “kingdom” will be handed on. They will see and do great things, but even greater are the works that will be done through them without their knowing it.
Today, we are how the “kingdom of God” gets handed on. Like Jesus’ disciples we too must be dependent on God so that great things can happen. However, at times we struggle. At times we think we can go it alone after all.
Often, we want our own identities. We want to create our own kingdoms which are of hands and for ourselves. We can go down this road, but it is the road to ruin. Even in the independence we celebrated last Thursday, God is present. We might say that God is always be laboring to free us from our independence. God is always reminding us that what we have is not our doing but God’s doing. If we remain faithful, if we remain dependent even greater are the works that can be done!
Have a blessed Sunday everyone!
Fr. Paul R. Fagan, C.P. "Preacher on the Run"
Just a few thoughts to help you on your journey through life...let me know from time to time what you think...