Friday of the Twenty-sixth Week in Ordinary Time
(Job 38:1.12-21.12-21.40:3-5; Luke 10:13-16)
On the anniversary of his being ordained a bishop, St. Augustine said: “Where I’m terrified by what I am for you, I am given comfort by what I am with you. For you I am a bishop, with you, after all, I am a Christian. The first is the name of an office undertaken, the second a name of grace; that one means danger, this one salvation.” More than most clerics, Augustine was aware of the great responsibility he assumed with ordination. Jesus suggests the enormity of the undertaking in today’s gospel.
Jesus is dismissing the seventy-two disciples for their missionary journey. He has mandated that they announce the kingdom of God. Now, after indicating the consequences of rejecting the proclamation, he identifies himself with them, and God the Father with him. It may be a privilege that they have been chosen to preach God’s word, but it entails a huge mortgage. They will be responsible for other people’s salvation. If they fail because of carelessness or giving rise to scandal, they can expect a fate more disastrous than the condemnation of Tyre, Sidon, and Capernaum.
All of us are being called today to be missionary disciples. We are to learn from Jesus the ways of holiness, love, and justice. And then we are to show these qualities to others. There is not much room for slack on the mission. But let us not be troubled so much by the responsibility. After all, as Augustine knew well, knowing Christ has graced us. We not only can but are delighted to share his love with others.