Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Isaiah 66:10-14c Galatians 6:14-18 Luke 10:1-12, 17-20
The lushness of early summer – birdsong, fragrant grass and wildflowers, the dew of morning. All a taste of the new creation. So too, Isaiah’s depiction of Jerusalem as a nursing mother feeding her children at abundant breasts. God and Jerusalem meld into One as source of life and communion, as cause for rejoicing.
The new creation thus imaged is breaking through in the ministry of Jesus as he sends his disciples before him. The urgency of mission requires that they travel lightly, trusting that their needs will be met by the communities to which they are sent. The reign of God arrives in the disciples’ preaching and healing. Yes. But it also arrives in the hospitality of those who receive them. The reign of God, the new creation, is a mutual affair. It is within us, it is among us, it awaits us—it is here already, and not yet.
Jesus sends his disciples out in an unfettered open-handedness that is the essence of trust. Yet his instructions are preceded by a warning: “I am sending you out as lambs among wolves.” So much for nurturing abundance and blissful communion. The new creation has its adversaries. The reign of God is at hand, but humans are free to accept it or reject it. Yet we who are commissioned to proclaim it in word and deed are bound by a deeper freedom. Bound by freedom? Yes: Bound by the freedom for which Christ has set us free. That’s what Paul declared to the Galatian community last week: “For freedom Christ set us free.” Today he goes on to say that his only boast is in the cross of Christ. And so it must be with us.
Remember that, as Jesus sends his disciples before him, he himself is on a journey to Jerusalem. Not the heavenly one of the abundant breasts, but the all-too earthly one under Roman occupation. He is on a journey that will lead to his passion, but which won’t end there. Jesus sends his disciples before him—he sends us before him—knowing the risk entailed in birthing the new creation, the reign of God. The paradox is that the new creation dwells within that very risk, just as the resurrection dwells within the cross, and the New Jerusalem dwells within the earthly one. We can risk the cross only because we already live from the resurrection.
Nurturing abundance and blissful communion—the lushness of the new creation is ours, already and not yet. We have all that we need for the journey.
Sr. Kathleen McManus, OP