Sunday readings in brief: 14th Sunday Year C
Is 66:10-14; Ps 65(66); Gal 6:14-18; Lk 10:1-12,17-20
Rejoice that your names are written in heaven.
Dear friends, today is the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Next Sunday will be the 15th Sunday. I want first to remind us that we are in the season of learning about the Kingdom of God and our teacher is Christ himself. We are required by our baptismal consecration, to live what we learn from Jesus in our day-to-day life and teach those around us as well.
In the first reading today, Prophet Isaiah preaches the message of hope for abundant peace to the people who were in great depression and suffering. The people had lost hope of ever returning to their land and building their lives back, after so many years under the oppression of a foreign rule. The message of hope for peace and freedom is the most important for someone who is experiencing oppression. All of us have experienced at one time or are at this very moment experiencing suffering almost too much to bear. Maybe you are on the brink of losing hope in holding on a few more days. The message for you today is God has heard your cry and if you only hold on in faith, he is sending peace flowing like a river to you.
Losing hope too soon because we have no one to encourage or walk with us in our sufferings can cause us great depression and sometimes even lives. St Paul is encouraging us to boast in the cross of Jesus Christ, and the marks of his suffering and death that won us everlasting salvation. Our hope of rising from any form of oppression is guaranteed in our faith in Jesus Christ. Faith is the mother of hope because in it we are convinced of the help of Christ suffered death for our sake. Faith helps us to push on or to hold on even when the situation is almost overwhelming to us.
The consequence of faith and hope is joy in what awaits us. We have many examples of people who were able to rejoice even when experiencing so much suffering. Their joy was anchored in their conviction of the cause for which they were suffering. It is suffering for something and not for nothing.
Jesus puts this in a different way when he sends the disciples to the towns and villages to proclaim the Good News. He warns them that while they will be welcome in some towns and villages, they will be rejected in others. Their duty was to proclaim peace to those who received them and leave the hurt feelings back in those places where they were not received. The wiping off of the dust clinging to their feet as they left those villages where they were not welcome symbolically means not carrying any hurt feelings with them.
In our different assignments, sometimes we go to places where we are received well and our mission becomes a success. However, in some other places, we face rejection that even makes difficult our mission. On one hand, Jesus is urging us not to take things too personally and carry with us the hurt feelings when people do not receive or accept us as we carry out our mission. On the other hand, Jesus also cautions his disciples not to rejoice because people accept them and in the miracles, they were able to perform but rather rejoice because their names are written in heaven. The ultimate goal for every disciple is to do the will of his or her master, and the ultimate reward is to be where his or her master is in heaven. Sometimes we get lost in the pomp of the great things we experience during the successful episodes of our career and forget the ultimate goal.
Dear friends, suffering is part of our existence though many of us spend a lot of energy and resources trying to avoid it in all its forms. However, today’s readings are giving us the medicine for suffering which is the peace that comes from God. If we experience suffering for a good cause, then we can be peaceful and the reward will be joy. However, if we are suffering because of the wrong choices, let us not stay there lamenting but seek help and grace to get out of those sufferings. The people of Israel suffered captivity because of rejecting God’s words through the prophets but they cried to him in repentance and he saved them.
Have a blessed Sunday.
Fr. Lawrence Muthee, SVD