Homilies by Rev. Andrew Collis unless indicated otherwise.
‘Peace and all good be with you’
Jesus sends out the 72, two by two – partners in ministry, partners in discovery, partners in faith. Expect hostility and rejection, he tells them. And yet, proclaim peace wherever you go. Accept the gifts of those who welcome you – in this Spirit of hospitality much can be accomplished. Don’t worry about being successful so much as sharing a vision of change and freedom in a way that means real participation, here and now, addressing urgent needs. The Gospel is about “people who love because of the influence of Jesus joining others who love” (Bill Loader) – people who really care recognising others who really care. In this daring Spirit much will be accomplished. God be with you …
We are given a picture of first-
A pair of poor travellers proclaiming peace. The Hebrew word shalom means more than the absence of conflict. Shalom is right relations – right relations within Creation, right relations between people and right relation with God. Shalom connotes the kindom of God – all that is just, compassionate – the overcoming of all that is evil. Friends or enemies? Like-
Jesus instructs the missionaries to build relationships rather than to seek the advancement of their careers, rather than to seek fame (“Don’t keep moving from house to house” in search of a better deal, a richer sponsor). Stay and talk awhile, stay and share awhile, stay and heal awhile, stay and learn awhile. Shalom is not just a message, then. Shalom is right relations. Our psalm for today may be heard in celebration of peace/shalom and right relations. “Let us join the earth in praising God./ Shalom./ As metals are refined by fire/ so we are tested by our difficulties./ Shalom./ I can now acknowledge your help./ As I passed through fire and water,/ I thought I was lost./ I now tell others of your support./ I do this with a grateful heart./ Shalom./ God has always been a constant listener./ Shalom.” Shalom is not just a message, then. Shalom is right relations.
The Gospel is harsh, though, in regards to those unwilling to receive such a message, such missionaries.
Because we know too well that missions have been places of disrespect and violence, that missionaries have frequently been judgemental, deceptive, arrogant and ignorant (that is, unwise), the harshness grates. We are likely, then, to see the travellers as colonisers – self-
It’s also possible, however, to discern a template for dealing with rejection of genuine wisdom. Move on, Jesus says. When you encounter inhospitality, name it, and move on. One door closes, another opens, as we say.
And it’s possible to see in the text a real challenge to prevailing values that insisted people remained bound to locality, family and station in life. Shalom and all it entails opens doors to new possibilities, to new life with others in the world. Franciscans greet one another with the words “Pax et bonum”, which means “Peace and all good (be with you)”. Shalom/Peace and all the good it entails opens doors to new life with others in the world. Missionaries, in other words, link one community of hope to the next – one culture of creativity to another, one world of understanding to another …
And at the heart of all this lies a certain poverty and simplicity.
Close relationship with God is what really matters, Jesus says. That your names are written in heaven is reason to rejoice. I’m reminded of a word of wisdom, an epiphany recorded by Thomas Merton: “In every human being resides a point or spark which belongs entirely to God, which is never at our disposal, from which God disposes our lives, which is inaccessible to the fantasies of our own mind or the brutalities of our will … It is so to speak [God’s] name written in us.” Our names written in heaven. God’s name written in us. In such a Spirit, we can live through the failures that inevitably come. And we shall overcome …
How we make a connection from this first-