“Rejoice with Jerusalem and be Glad”
n our readings this Sunday, we find great Joy in the redemptive love of God and in the spreading of the Gospel of Christ. We boast of our joy, even in our suffering.
In our first reading (Isaiah 66:10-14)
, God spoke through the prophet Isaiah as the Jewish people were returning to rebuild Jerusalem after years of captivity in Babylon. As they found their city and temple in ruins, God promised that the day would come when their beloved Jerusalem would be as a a nursing mother, tenderly caring for her children. That would be a time of great joy.
Thus says the LORD: Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad because of her, all you who love her; exult, exult with her, all you who were mourning over her! Oh, that you may suck fully of the milk of her comfort, that you may nurse with delight at her abundant breasts! For thus says the LORD: Lo, I will spread prosperity over Jerusalem like a river, and the wealth of the nations like an overflowing torrent. As nurslings, you shall be carried in her arms, and fondled in her lap; as a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; in Jerusalem you shall find your comfort.
In our Epistle reading (Galatians 6:14-18)
, we hear the conclusion of St. Paul's letter to the Galatians. In it, Paul reminded his community once again that it is through the glory of the cross of Jesus that we are saved, and worldly issues like circumcision are of no import. His boast is in the sufferings and scars of his apostolic labors. His concern (and ours) is the new creation in Jesus.
Brothers and sisters: May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither does circumcision mean anything, nor does uncircumcision, but only a new creation. Peace and mercy be to all who follow this rule and to the Israel of God. From now on, let no one make troubles for me; for I bear the marks of Jesus on my body. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen.
In our Gospel reading (Luke 10:1-12, 17-20), we hear of Jesus sending seventy two disciples out to the towns and countryside to preach the Good News. He gave them detailed instructions, and they returned overjoyed at the wonders they were able to do in the name of Jesus.
At that time the Lord appointed seventy-two others whom he sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit. He said to them, "The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest. Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; and greet no one along the way. Into whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace to this household.' If a peaceful person lives there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you. Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you, for the laborer deserves his payment. Do not move about from one house to another. Whatever town you enter and they welcome you, eat what is set before you, cure the sick in it and say to them, 'The kingdom of God is at hand for you.' Whatever town you enter and they do not receive you, go out into the streets and say, 'The dust of your town that clings to our feet, even that we shake off against you.' Yet know this: the kingdom of God is at hand. I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom on that day than for that town."
The seventy-two returned rejoicing, and said, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name." Jesus said, "I have observed Satan fall like lightning from the sky. Behold, I have given you the power to 'tread upon serpents' and scorpions and upon the full force of the enemy and nothing will harm you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice because your names are written in heaven."
For the Israelites, restoration to their homeland was a joyous and wondrous thing. For we Christians, restoration to our "new creation" in Christ is even more joyous and wondrous. Just as Jesus sent his seventy-two out into the world to preach and to heal, so does he send us. May we take to heart his instructions to his disciples. We too are like lambs sent among wolves. We too should feel the urgency of the mission, not burdened down by the trappings of this world. And just as they returned rejoicing for what God had accomplished through them, so may we reflect that same joy as we live out our redemption.
- Click HERE to read, reflect, pray on the scripture readings for this Sunday