Responding to the call of mission

Answering a call to mission is never an easy task. It is likely that when one is called to respond to God’s mission, it fills us with anxiety and worries.

Jul 01, 2022

Reflecting on our Sunday Readings with Bro Lincoln Lee

14th Sunday of Ordinary Time (C)
Readings: Isaiah 66:10-14c;
Galatians 6:14-18;
Gospel: Luke 10:1-2, 17-20

Answering a call to mission is never an easy task. It is likely that when one is called to respond to God’s mission, it fills us with anxiety and worries. I know that I took a long time to respond to my vocation call, because I was filled with many worries, questions and doubts. I knew that it would not be an easy journey towards the priesthood, which would doubtlessly be filled with trials, temptations and challenges throughout the way. It required my commitment to leave behind my way of life, and to go into the unknown; trusting in God’s providence.

In this same tone, it is likely that the 72 followers of Jesus would have felt very similar emotions and, at the very least, the same questions that I had. Jesus, knowing this very well of His followers, detailed a set of advices and instructions to these followers of His. The sending of the 72 in the Gospel of Luke is the second instance of Jesus sending out His followers ahead of Him on mission. It is preceded by the sending of the 12 disciples found in Luke 9:1-6. In this week’s Gospel, Jesus instructs 72 followers, sending them out in pairs, warning them of the perils along their mission in bringing the Good News of the coming of the Kingdom of God.

As I break down the message of the Gospel; He first appoints the 72. This is the call to mission, our call to vocation. As followers of Jesus, we too are called to mission in our homes, communities, parishes, diocese and country. We are called to be bearers of Good News in our daily lives. Then there is the corresponding response, to ask the Master to send out His labourers. Jesus would never compel us into doing anything we are not comfortable in doing, and therefore a response on our part, a desire to accede to the will of the Divine.

He then sends them out in pairs, without any belongings and warning them of the peril out there. The call to mission is never easy, and it can often be a lonely journey. He reminds us that we are never alone, being in pairs, yet the journey is not without its challenges. We need to be vigilant in our journey of mission, and most importantly to trust in the providence of God. At any time of our call to mission, we must remember what St Paul has said in Philippians 4:12-13, for the mission in bringing the Kingdom of God is only possible through Christ, and therefore I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

The following verses 5 – 12, then speaks of the mission of bringing the Good News. As we proclaim the Good News through our daily lives, there are not only dangers to deal with. Our mission may not be well received by some, while others may welcome it. Welcoming the Good News is welcoming the Kingdom of God, and woe to those who reject it, while blessings will be upon those who welcome the Kingdom of God.

Finally, when the 72 return, they rejoice at their success. Who wouldn’t? Yet Jesus reminds them that their successes were not of their own volition and to beware of the sin of pride. Again, a reminder of the words of St Paul: I can only do all things through Christ.

This brings to mind the story of the nativity. At the Annunciation, Mary was called to the mission of bearing Jesus, to which she humbly responded, “Thy will be done”. Subsequently, Mary and Joseph, departed from Galilee to the town of Bethlehem. As tradition has it, they travelled on a donkey and it is likely they brought little with them since Mary was heavily pregnant. It was not an easy journey, obviously dangerous for a heavily pregnant woman.

When they arrived in the town of Bethlehem, they were not welcomed in any of the inns and resorted to a manger to give birth. Mary was carrying in her, Jesus, the Good News, literally ready to give birth to the Good News, the bearer of the Kingdom of God, but was rejected and turned away at every door they knocked on.

As I reflect on the Gospel in Luke 10:1 – 21 and its parallelism to the nativity story in Luke 2: 1-7, it is revealing to me that Mary and Joseph were indeed the first missionaries of God. The very same words Jesus said to His followers is still relevant and applicable to all of us today, as we too are called to the mission of Christ. We therefore not only have the words of Christ as a consolation in our mission, but also a fine example in Mary and Joseph, who responded humbly to their mission in bearing the Good News to the whole world.

Bro Lincoln Lee is a fifth year seminarian from the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur. He has concluded his philosophy studies at College General, Penang and is currently a first year Theology seminarian in St Peter’s College, Kuching.

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