Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice with her in joy, all you who mourn over her, that you may nurse and be satisfied from her consoling breast; that you may drink deeply with delight from her glorious bosom.
For thus says the Lord: I will extend prosperity to her like river, and the wealth of the nations like an overflowing stream; and you shall nurse and be carried on her arm, and dandled on her knees.
As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem. You shall see, and your heart shall rejoice; your bodies shall flourish like the grass; and it shall be known that the hand of the Lord is with his servants, and his indignation is against his enemies.
Cry out with joy to God all the earth,
O sing to the glory of his name.
O render him glorious praise.
Say to God: 'How tremendous your deeds! (R./)
'Before you all the earth shall bow:
shall sing to you, sing to your name!'
Come and see the works of God,
tremendous his deeds among men. (R./)
He turned the sea into dry land,
they passed through the river dry-shod.
Let our joy then be in him;
he rules for ever by his might. (R./)
Come and hear, all who fear God.
I will tell what he did for my soul.
Blessed be God who did not reject my prayer
nor withhold his love from me. (R./)
May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is anything; but a new creation is everything! As for those who will follow this rule - peace be upon them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.
From now on, let nobody make trouble for me; for I carry the marks of Jesus branded on my body. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen.
or, shorter version: 10:1-9, omitting the italics
The Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet nobody on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace to this house!' And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the labourer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, 'The kingdom of God has come near to you.'"
But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, 'Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.' And I tell you, on that day it will be more tolerable for Sodom than for that town.
The seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!" He said to them, "I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven ."
The gospel has Jesus sending his disciples out to do his work. He gives them definite directions. Then they returned to him to report on how they got on.
At election times we get the literature in the post, through the mailbox, or we have someone call to the door. Those who call to the door usually travel in twos. They have been well briefed, and they have their presentation ready. They are representing the one seeking election, and, therefore, they ensure that they remain faithful to the political manifesto of that person or party. If not every day, then certainly every week, they return to headquarters to report on how they got on. Today's gospel, of course, is about much more than seeking votes in an election, but there are some similarities.
Notice how he sent them out in pairs. He called each one individually but he never sent an apostle out alone. There are just two incidents in the gospels when an apostle went out alone: one was to betray him, the other ended up denying him. The support of others is essential to living the gospel. Even a hermit has to be commissioned by a community, and must stay be in touch with that group.
Jesus told the apostles that he was sending them out like lambs among wolves. That wasn't very encouraging! They had a choice. They could conform to fashion, and preach a message that made people comfortable in their complacency; or they could preach the message of Jesus, that called for fundamental change. But notice the enthusiasm of the disciples when they returned. They had obeyed Jesus, and it worked. They discovered that the call to mission contained the power to do good. Jesus went even further in assuring them that their names were registered as citizens of heaven.
The gospel is in between two phrases. The first is "Come and see," and the last is "Go and tell." If I have seen, I will want to go and tell. There is a difference between witnessing and evangelising. We are all called to witness, but not all are called to evangelise. Many of us would die a thousand deaths if we had to stand on a box in Hyde Park, and preach to the passers-by! We can all witness, through the example of our lives. Christianity is about attracting others to serve God rather than promoting ourselves.
Imagine there were only a hundred people alive on this earth, after a nuclear disaster. On today's statistics, about seventy of them would be poor, while thirty would be comparatively well off. Ninety-three of them would have to watch while seven of them owned half the money, ate one third of the food, and had more doctors looking after them as the other ninety-three. The real problem is when the seven have the nerve to attempt to evangelise the ninety-three! How can they tell about the wonderful Saviour they have, who talks about sharing, feeding the hungry, while the seven throw out more food than would feed all of the ninety-three! A certain simplicity of lifestyle would be needed, if the good news is to be really credible from those who try to share it.
One word, PEACE, recurs in today's readings. In Isaiah, peace flows like a river through the ideal future landscape that he predicts. In the letter to the Galatians, despite many divisions in the community, Paul prays for peace for all who follow Christ ("peace be upon them, and mercy"). In Luke's gospel, when sending out his disciples, Jesus says their first message to every house must be: "Peace to this house."
But even as peace is highly praised, it meets with obstacles and quarrels, when people want peace only on their own rigid terms. Even many Christians hardly give it more than lip service. Bitter divisions are obvious in the epistle to the Galatians. A very insistent Jewish Christian group want the Church to keep the Jewish rite of circumcision, while others like Paul considered that ritual as a obsolete. Every age in the Church has its own controversies and dividing lines. They may be about minor issues or major ones. Such arguments and misunderstandings are probably unavoidable. Notice how, when the first disciples returned to Jesus, flushed with joy from their success, they were too proud of the people's response to their preaching. They were in danger of arrogance and needed his word of guidance. Pride is far from the poverty of spirit taught by Jesus. It leaves us less compassionate towards a world which needs to know the compassion of Christ.
The full glory of this joyful hymn in Isaiah is remarkable because the hymn comes from the Suffering Servant. It is the joy of one who has suffered the divisions and hatred of this world and reconciled them in himself. Paul appreciates this paradox: "The only thing I boast about is the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world is crucified to me, and I to the world."
Christian peacemakers and ministers must be prepared for their share of the cross. The total, self-emptying service whown by Christ shows us how to behave. We need a simple lifestyle, prepared for service and not tied to material things: "no purse, no haversack, no sandals." He rules out all pride and arrogance. Even those who reject him should be loved and served in his name. The generosity of God must remain our message. In an often cruel world, we can do our part only by remembering Jesus, staying close to him.