The Joy and Boast of Missionaries
(14th Ordinary Sunday: Isaiah 66:10-14; Galatians 6:14-18; Luke 10:1-12, 17-20)
[NOTE: The following is lovingly dedicated to the memory of Bishop Donald Pelletier, M.S., 90, lifelong missionary to Madagascar, who died when struck by a car on June 4, 2022, even as this reflection was being prepared.]
In today’s gospel Jesus commissioned seventy-two disciples to precede him to towns and villages he intended to visit. He provided them with specific, rather daunting instructions as to the how, what, where, etc. of their mission. They had already spent significant time in his company, they were ready, off they went.
Their mission was a success, as we read: “The seventy-two returned rejoicing, and said, ‘Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name.’" La Salette Missionaries and Sisters and Laity are not strangers to this experience. Whether in unfamiliar lands and languages, or in our own little worlds, we know the joy of bearing a message of peace and promise, especially when it is well received.
But Jesus saw the possibility of failure, too, and told the disciples what to do in that case. St. Paul provides further guidance in the second reading: “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Here it is good for us to remember once again that all the glorious light of the apparition of Our Lady of La Salette emanated from the crucifix resting over her heart. When we experience failure or rejection in our mission of reconciliation, we may imagine ourselves bathed in that same light.
That said, the dominant theme of today’s liturgy is joy. The first reading sets the tone. Isaiah has a vision of the exiles returning to Jerusalem, and compares them to an infant nursing exuberantly at its mother’s breast—an image of perfect happiness!
The Psalmist takes up the theme: “Shout joyfully to God, all the earth,” and then finds as many ways as possible to say it again.
Naturally we are delighted when our missionary efforts bear fruit. But let us not forget Jesus’ words, “Do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” An added comfort for us, if needed, is that our names are inscribed in the heart of a Beautiful Lady.
Wayne Vanasse, and Fr. René Butler, M.S.