Happy July 4th!
Wish you all a Happy July 4th! Are you excited to celebrate July 4th? We are grateful for our country, a nd we want to be good citizens. Thomas Jefferson on July 4th, 1826, wrote in a letter: “May it be to the world, what I believe it will be ... the signal of arousing men to burst the chains ... and to assume the blessings and security of self-government. That form, which we have substituted, restores the free right to the unbounded exercise of reason and freedom of opinion. All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. ...For ourselves, let the annual return of this day forever refresh our recollections of these rights and an undiminished devotion to them."
The best thing we can do to become better citizens is to be better Christians. Every year around July 4th United States Conference of Catholic Bishops invites us to pray for religious freedom. We are excited to celebrate July 4th, but we need to hold on to that spirit every day, in every aspect of our life.
Last week, we reflected on call, response, and commitment. This weekend's reading reflects on the proclamation of Good News of Hope and Love. The first reading and Gospel talk about joy. In the first reading from the book of Isaiah, the prophet invites the Israelites to rejoice with Jerusalem. In the Gospel, the seventy-two came back with much joy.
The first reading from the book of Isaiah is from the third Isaiah (56-66). The passage for this weekend is from chapter 66 which deals with the history of rights after the Babylonian exile. They were in exile for fifty years when the Persians conquered the Babylonians and allowed the Jews to return home. What they saw when they returned was discouraging: their cities and homes were ruined. God engages with them through Isaiah and insists that they rejoice. He promises that Jerusalem is like a mother once again, nurturing them and caring for them. We see the same message about Jerusalem in several Old Testament passages. We read in Tobit 13:14 “Happy are those who love you, and happy are those who rejoice in your peace. Happy too are all who grieve over all your afflictions, for they will rejoice over you and behold all your joy forever.” God told Israelites they will enjoy prosperity once again. Psalm 66, our responsorial psalm echoes this call to rejoice.
The Gospel passage (Luke 10:1-12, 17-20) is paired with the mission of seventy-two: the preaching of the Kingdom and healing brings prosperity like in the first reading “prosperity over Jerusalem like a river” Isaiah 10:12.
The seventy-two returned rejoicing, and said, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name" (Luke 10:17). Jesus joined their enthusiasm, "I have observed Satan falling like lightning from the sky… Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice because your names are written in heaven" (Luke 10:18&20).
In the Gospel of Luke chapter 9:1-6, we see Jesus sent the twelve with power and authority over all demons and diseases and sent seventy-two in the chapter 10:1-20 which is only in Luke’s Gospel. Jesus patterns his missionary effort on Moses (Numbers 11:24-26). Here Moses chose seventy elders and asked them to stand around the tent. God took some of the spirit that was on Moses and bestowed it on the seventy-two. But two men Eldad and Medad were in the tent and also received the spirit. The seventy-two bring Good News of hope and love to the people of whatever town they enter. They showed those people that evil is being defeated by curing the sick and liberating them from demons. The seventy-two returned with great joy and Jesus rejoices with them.
Who are the seventy-two today? We are seventy-two who are sent out to spread the Good News of love and hope. Jesus Christ has conquered evil through his passion, death, and resurrection. He is with us. He gave us the Sacrament of healing: Confession and Anointing, so we can receive the healing. Every time we gather to celebrate the Eucharist, he gives us nourishment and sends us out to proclaim the Good News. We can share the healing through prayer, forgiving each other, and being next to someone in need. Let us wish peace to one another. Let us be the one of the seventy-two.