Saint Luke, Evangelist – Readings

Commentary on 2 Timothy 4:10-17; Psalm 144; Luke 10:1-9

The Gospel reading comes (appropriately) from Luke. It is a description of Jesus sending out 72 disciples in pairs to every town and place that he himself was going to visit. There is a tradition that Luke was one of these disciples, although there is no way to confirm it as a fact. At the same time, what Luke describes here must also have matched in many ways his own experience as a missionary in the company of Paul during their journeys through Asia Minor and Greece and, finally, in Rome.

Jesus begins by reminding his disciples that there is a huge harvest out there and that many workers are needed to bring it in. As he sends them out with a message of love to the world, he warns them not to be surprised if they meet with opposition. They will be like a flock of lambs among a pack of wolves. Luke must have seen this happen many times in the company of Paul.

They are to travel with the absolute minimum of belongings – not even a staff or travelling bag. They are to walk in their bare feet and not to waste time chatting idly with people they meet on the way. Much of this must have been practised by Jesus himself, who did not even have his own bed to sleep in. When they enter any house offering them hospitality, they are to wish God’s peace on that house. But, if they are not welcomed, they are to leave without a blessing. And, on their travels, they are to stay in the one house, satisfied with whatever is offered them. On the one hand, because of the work they are doing, they deserve to be taken care of. At the same time, they are not to be hopping from house to house in search of better conditions and more comfort.

Once welcomed in any place, they are to preach Jesus’ message and bring healing to all those who need it and they are to proclaim that:

The kingdom of God has come near to you.

Of course, this Kingdom or Reign of God is personified in Jesus himself who will be coming to these places after his disciples. The Reign of God comes into existence when people lead their lives according to the will of God – when they are people filled with love and compassion, ready and eager to serve each other, attending to people’s genuine needs and in general sharing with each other everything they have.

We are grateful to Luke for the wonderful picture of Jesus he has given us and in telling us how Jesus’ disciples, especially Paul, put the Gospel of Jesus into action and brought the message of the Kingdom all the way to Rome, then the capital and administrative centre of their world. And from Rome it would extend to the furthest corners of our planet.

The First Reading is taken from the Second Letter to Timothy. Here Paul, who is now a prisoner in Rome and awaiting execution, complains of his loneliness and asks Timothy, who seems to be in Ephesus to come and join him. Many of his companions (e.g. Demas) have left him or he has sent them (e.g. Tychicus) away on some mission. However, one person is still with him and that is Luke. Timothy is also asked to bring Mark along.

Paul regrets that during his trial no one stood by him. In this, Paul’s experience is not unlike that of his Master, Jesus. But through it all, God has stood by him and given him the strength to complete his mission that all nations would hear the message of the Gospel.

Let us, too, make the message of Luke’s Gospel and Acts part of us and be ready, even in difficult circumstances, to live and spread it in all the situations of our life.

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