Sunday Reflection with Fr Terry Tastard - 4 July 3010

The gospel today (Luke 10.1-9) is full of details which tell us much about how Jesus saw his ministry.  The same details are important for us and the church today.

Note first of all that he sends his disciples out in pairs.  All of us need support, companionship, encouragement.  Moreover, two minds conferring and consulting can usually see more clearly and decide more effectively than one.

These disciples in pairs were the advance party to all the places he himself was to visit.  They were to prepare the way for Jesus.

Sometimes we might imagine that the preaching and teaching ministry of Jesus was unplanned and spontaneous, but here we see foresight and organisation.  Now, admittedly planning is not everything.  In addition to planning there needs to be inspiration.  We need to be open to the word God gives us in that moment.  But inspiration is not opposed to careful forethought; rather, the two can work together.    This is as true in everyday living as it is in the life of the Christian community.  Families need to think carefully about the future, to provide as best they can for it.  But there also needs to be a spirit of trust and hopefulness in what God can do for us.

The disciples are told that the harvest is rich but labourers are few.  The way people talk about our vocational crisis might make you think that it was something entirely new.  Actually, many times in the life of the Church there have been too many opportunities and too few workers.  Right now I am reading the autobiography of a Canadian general, Romeo Dallaire, a man of great humanity.  He makes the point repeatedly that armies never have enough resources:  improvisation and creativity are necessary for success.  Certainly, we need more priests and religious now.  But we also need more people from the pews to step forward and take up their share in the life of their parish.       

They are told salute no one on the road.  There was to be an urgency and purpose to their work.  No time for gossiping or idling time away.  They were people with a mission, sent by Christ.  It is a break with their former way of life, and will be costly even in terms of human attachments.

 But the life of Christian witness has its consolations.  Our first reading from Isaiah 66.10-14 shows the city of God as a community of joy, warmth and nourishment.  We remember the message of the cross (Galatians 6.14-18).  But we also need to remember that there is to be joy and fulfilment in the  Christian community.

The disciples were to carry no purse, and would have to depend upon the generosity of the people among whom they ministered.  They were also told do not move from house to house.  Perhaps we see the experience of the early Christians here.  Once the message of Christ became popular, the evangelists would have been taken up by the better off people and invited to come and live in their more comfortable houses.  Jesus anticipates this, and tells them to be at home among the poorer people who are the first to receive them and the first to open their hearts to God speaking to them in Christ.  The message was to be:  The Kingdom of God is very near.  God is not distant, but here and now.

Fr Terry is Parish Priest at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Brook Green, west London.   His new book:  Ronald Knox and English Catholicism is published by Gracewing at £12.99 and is available on Amazon, on ICN's front page. To read Sr Gemma Simmonds' review on ICN see:

Share this story