The second in a series of reflections on Sacred Scripture (lectio divina) in discerning one’s vocation. “The Lord … appointed seventy two others and sent them ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit” (Luke 10:1). How can we as disciples be united among ourselves, to be poor and bold in proclaiming the Gospel message?
by Sr. Emily Beata Marsh, FSP
In the Gospel of Luke in chapter 10, verses 1-7 are about the sending out of the seventy-two disciples; it's a type of instruction manual on how to be a disciple. Jesus first gathers the disciples to himself. Then he sends them out, each to a specific destination with a specific mission. He gives them a “pep talk” before they leave and tells them how they should travel, what they should bring, and what they should do when they arrive.
Jesus wants his disciples to bring the “good news” to people and to proclaim that the kingdom of God is at hand. In other words, he gives the disciples his own mission: to bring God’s love, to teach and to heal all who believe in him.
The Attitudes of a Disciple
Jesus came to be the love of the Father on earth; he sends his disciples to be God’s love as well. Witnessing to God’s love may very well have been part of the disciples’ lives before Jesus called them. The difference, however, is that being a witness of God’s love is now the disciples’ full-time job. They are not going to these towns simply to be fishermen or carpenters or tax collectors in a loving way; they are going to be lovers—lovers of God and lovers of souls.
In this passage, Jesus desires three main attitudes for his disciples as they go out. He wants them to be united among one another, to be poor, and to be bold. This is fairly straightforward and easy to see in the text. Jesus sends the disciples “in pairs.” He does not want them to work alone; rather, he calls them to be a united witness of love. They are to take “no money bag, no sack, no sandals.” Poverty, trust, and dependence are what should characterize them. Finally, they are to make a bold and explicit proclamation of the peace of God’s kingdom.
But what does this say to us, two thousand years later? Jesus is not visibly present among us in the same way now as he was then. If we were to walk down a road without a wallet or a coat, enter a town, and try to find a place to stay, we might find it rather difficult! Whether God calls you to abandon your “money bag” and “sandals,” or to keep your shoes on and your wallet in hand, the important thing is the attitudes that Jesus enumerates. We are all called to unity, poverty, and boldness in evangelization.
A Call to Unity, Poverty and Boldness
The call to unity in evangelization prompts us to ask: who am I walking with on the road of discipleship? Even more, how am I walking with them? When I reflected on this question, what came to my mind was my daily commute. Each morning, Monday through Friday, I would take the Metro to class. Many of the people on the Metro were totally isolated and insulated from others. They would sit next to each other, but they had their headphones on or their eyes on their book. This is not how disciples should walk together! We need to have our eyes, ears, and hearts open to one another.
Jesus asks us to walk in poverty. Poverty has many different expressions. The homeless woman outside the subway station is poor in one way. The man in a nice suit with laptop in hand, waiting for the train is poor in another way. But poverty at its root is an acknowledgement of our inherent and utter dependence on God as creatures. It is the cry, “I need you, God!” This in turn leads us to radical trust in him. Evangelizing in poverty means taking ourselves out of the center and placing God there; it means trusting that God will always provide, no matter how impossible that may seem.
Finally, Jesus invites us to boldness. In The Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis encourages us to boldness, too: “I invite everyone to be bold and creative in this task [of evangelization]” (The Joy of the Gospel, 33). What does Jesus mean by boldness? It is not coercion; rather, it is overflowing joy that cannot be held back. The joy of knowing Jesus is so great that in a certain sense I must share him with others. “Do not be afraid!” This is repeated over and over in the Gospels, over and over by the Church: “Do not be afraid!”
In this month’s Lectio Divina, maybe we could examine our response to the call of discipleship.
- How do I walk with my fellow disciples?
- What is my poverty—and how does it lead me to trust in God?
- What place do joy and boldness have in my life of discipleship?
Jesus can’t wait to hear your answers—he can’t wait to send you out!
A Discerner’s Prayer
Dear Jesus, I believe that you have called me to follow you. Help me to understand what that really means. Help me to be a loving, poor, and bold disciple who takes your love everywhere I go. Amen.
Sr. Emily Beata Marsh, FSP, is a Daughter of St. Paul. She professed her vows in January 2012. She is currently studying in Rome in preparation for her final vows.