St Paul reveals to those early Christians, in what is part of Turkey today, that the centre of his life is not he himself, not his plans and not his desires but Jesus Christ. The Apostle declared that he was crucified to the world and the world to him so that the sinner who lived in him could die and a new child of God could be raised to life. How different it is to what the world has been preaching to us all the time: that our desires are the most important and we have right to fulfil them. The world stimulates our ambitions and assures us that we have right to accomplish them. However it creates a disastrous world for us when we expect things to go around us. Maybe for non-believers it makes sense but we who believe in Jesus don’t need to place ourselves in the centre of the Universe as we believe that we are already in the centre of God’s attention. Can anything else make your day better than this belief?
My Dear Sisters and Brothers! The Lord Jesus sent seventy-two of his disciples ahead of him. The number wasn’t random. It was believed to be the number of the nations in the world. If someone were picky today they could laugh at that outdated knowledge. However the number which reflects the limitation of the scientific comprehension of the people of that time can be a serious challenge for those who reflect on it deeply. Jesus’ approach indicates that there is no nation on the earth that could be excluded from the evangelisation mission. Today Jesus would send 196 disciples in order to speak to our mind the need for reaching out to those peoples with the message of the Gospel.
Let’s look at what he said to those 72 people. His very first words were: “The harvest is rich but the labourers are few, so ask the Lord of the harvest to send labourers to his harvest.” St Luke’s word for send is a strong one here. It means to drive out, cast out, or thrust out. Does it remind you something? That’s what Jesus did when he cast out demon. That’s what Jesus did when he drove the money changers from the temple with a whip of cords. Translating it as a gentle “send” doesn’t do the word justice. In fact Jesus told His disciples to pray that God would cast out, drive out, and thrust out labourers into the harvest field. It doesn’t simply apply to some other people but it is the prayer for ourselves too: to be cast out, driven out and thrusted out into the harvest field. It becomes dramatic when we consider that Jesus speaks of God as the “Lord of the harvest.” Imagine a landowner and his crops are ready for harvest. He has labourers too, but they don’t feel like working. The sun may be hot or it might be raining or conditions may not be just right for working that day. Is the landowner going to let the harvest rot in the field, or is he going to find some special motivation for his workers that day? I vote for special motivation: drive out, cast out, thrust out. Wonderful motivation, isn’t it? This motivation includes me and you too.
Copernicus is believed to move the earth from its passive position in the Universe though he actually didn’t move it he discovered that it was moving. The reason Jesus asked his disciples to pray for the labours of the harvest to be cast out, driven out and thrusted out was because to move a person out of their self-centred world into the Christ-centred and mission-centred needs God’s grace. Are you ready to pray for that?