In today's gospel we read these words, "At that time the Lord appointed seventy-two others whose he sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit."
First question in regards to this reading is: who are the 72? What do they consist of as they go out? Who makes up these pairs that Jesus sends ahead of him?
If we think it is only men who are priest or religious professed men and women in habits then we would be sadly mistaken.
We have to get that notion out of our heads. Missionary activity is not reserved only for those who wear the collar or the religious habits i.e. the friars, monks, sisters, nuns. No way is this what Jesus meant.
The pairs that are sent out is representative of the whole; it consist of men, women, young adults, maybe even children. I would assume it consists of husbands and wives, grandparents and cousins. It may be neighbors working in tandem.
It is everyone and all of us.
What doe this missionary activity look like? Do they need special training and theological studies?
Poep Francis in his homily for St Junipero Serra last September spoke these words,
"Mission is always the fruit of a life which knows what it is to be found and healed, encountered and forgiven. Mission is born of a constant experience of God’s merciful anointing."
This is what it means to be a missionary; we simply introduce others to the experience we ourselves have first had.
We share the encounter and experience of being found and healed, encountered and forgiven. We give away what we ourselves have first received.
All missionary work commences here at this point.
We ask ourselves, "Have we encountered the risen Lord? Have we be found and healed and forgiven? These are the tools of the trade when it comes to missionary activity in our life.
If w have not encountered the risen Lord or the love of the Father then we must ask him to show us. He who has commissioned us will certainly give us was we need as we go forth.
Lastly, notice Jesus sends the pairs out the cities he intended to visit. How does Jesus visit these towns? He visits them through the disciples themselves. As they share their encounter with Christ the others begin to experience the presence of Jesus himself.
In particularly, I think of husbands and wives, that ready made dynamic duo, pairs sent forth to share the joy of Christ.
This is why the church calls the family a domestic church.
Rooted in their vows as husbands and wives is this notion and reality of being a missionary. In fact the opening prayer at wedding ceremonies is inviting the bride and groom to becomes living witness of God' love.
Go forth. Carry the joy of Jesus in being found, healed, encountered, forgiven.
Go forth two by two and by our presence may Jesus be experienced in the lives of others.