Neh 8:1-4A,5-6,7B-1; Ps 19:8-11; Lk 10:1-12
The joy of this kind of radical Christian lifestyle was and continues to be convincing and attractive. Like Psalm 19 we are not afraid to admit that the source and sustenance for our joy is the law, the decree, the precepts, the command and the fear of the Lord. In the Lord, we discover, and we are delight in great refreshment, wisdom, rejoicing and enlightenment. We do not hold back from giving completely because the Lord did not hold back in giving himself completely to each one of us. We are filled with the utter fullness of God, and we know what Nehemiah and Ezra tried to teach the returned exiles, that rejoicing in the Lord must be your strength. In such great rejoicing, we find the strength to face all our doubts. As the Lord Jesus sent his seventy-two disciples ahead of him, so too, we are sent as a willing laborer into the abundant harvest. We do not murmur or complain about our sickness and fear. Rather, we are convinced of the power of love. Because of such love we can change everything, even our suffering, into loving service for the redemption of the world. Only with love can we embrace suffering and that love alone can change the world. We are sent forth from every Mass to proclaim, “The Kingdom of God is found in the little things done in love of God and neighbor.”
It doesn’t happen very often in the Liturgy, but sometimes the proclamation of the Word of God sparks weeping. Sometimes we hear the Lord speaking directly to our hearts, and we are moved to tears. This was the reaction of the whole people gathered as one person before the Water Gate as they asked Ezra to bring forth the Book of Moses and to read it publicly for all to hear. They listened attentively to the book of the law from daybreak until midday. All the people were weeping as they heard the words of the law. Perhaps they wept because the scribe, Ezra, proclaimed the word of the Lord with such reverence and beauty. Perhaps they were cut to the quick by the truth and power of the Word and shed tears of repentance. Or, perhaps they finally realized the full demands of the law and were afraid that they could never fulfill the commandments of the Lord. Whatever the mix of motivations, those who instructed the people that day cried out, “Today is holy to the LORD your God. Do not be sad, and do not weep! Gradually the Levites quieted the people and everyone joined to celebrate with great joy for they understood the words that had been expounded to them. When the word of the Lord is heard attentively and understood deeply it moves the people to rejoice and to witness. There are tears in the dark night of purification, but joy comes with the dawn.
The Lord Jesus sends forth his disciples like lambs among wolves. They are to travel without money, sack, sandals, and they are to greet no one. This kind of radical poverty made them ready to rely totally on the Lord Jesus, and the kindness of those to whom they proclaimed the gospel. When welcomed they are to eat whatever is set before them and cure the sick and proclaim the coming of the Kingdom of God. When unwelcome they are to take courage and warn the inhospitable town that the coming of the Kingdom of God will still take place. On that day, such inhospitable behavior will not be tolerated. Only hearts full of joy will be able to bear such rejection and continue to witness without hesitation. This is the joy that makes our witness radiant. This is the joy we radiate because we have tasted of the goodness of the Lord, in his own Body and Blood.