I thought of all this as I was thinking about being a disciple of Christ. Is it enough to put the jersey on every once in a while? We go to Church, most of us on a regular basis. Others are present on special occasions – weddings and funerals, maybe the feast of a favorite saint. Today Jesus helps us to understand that, being his disciple entails much more.
Last week we have seen Jesus embarking on a journey, during which he calls some to follow him. In the gospel he had already sent the twelve apostles “to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick”. Now he sends another seventy-two disciples. These do not form part of the intimate group of the twelve. Like you and I, they are mere followers of Jesus. People who have somehow experienced an encounter with Jesus and discovered that this person is worth following. He can offer something which others cannot.
What Jesus does today is very important. It is good, and it is important, that we follow Jesus. It is by following that we learn how he lives, how he responds to certain situations. It is by staying close to him and journeying with him that we can listen to his words and teachings. As Pope Francis reminds us, "The missionary disciple has first of all a center, a point of reference, which is the person of Jesus." And now Jesus is showing us that it is not enough for his disciples to follow and receive from him – whether that includes teaching or some form of healing, or both. Like the chosen twelve, the disciple also shares in the mission of Jesus. He is also sent to proclaim, to give witness. Pope Francis points out that our status as missionaries is not a consequence of ordination, but of baptism, that all of us are called to be missionary disciples, to be sent by Jesus and speak on his behalf. If I were to be a disciple who seeks only to receive from Jesus without sharing what I received with others, that would make me a very selfish disciple. And selfishness and Jesus do not go well together!
Finally, the Master tells us to take with us only what is essential for the journey. Those who are sent to proclaim are “secure only in the love of the one who sends them, remaining strong only on the power of his word which they go to announce,” reminds us our Pope. And what we are to give to others is the gift of his peace.
The twelve, the seventy-two, eventually changed the world. They shared the same passion for the well-being of humanity that Jesus had. They were not people who wore the colors of Jesus every once in a while. This is what we are called to be: people who, with passion and love, bring his peace wherever we are sent.