Dearest friends, Christianity is a call, a vocation- from the Latin word ‘vocare’ which means ‘to call’. We are called by God in Christ, and that is why we are Christians, that we are privileged to be called to be partakers of the new life, of the new creation in Christ. And so, Christianity is not just a lifestyle, or an identity, or just a religious group like any other. No! Christianity is an encounter, an encounter with someone that changes everything, an encounter that gives life a new purpose, a new meaning, a new direction. It is an encounter with a God who is Love, and it is the very expression of that Love that He called us, that He created us, that He ransomed us, to be emblems- images of His Love to those we meet everywhere. To the downtrodden, the weak, the orphaned, the less privileged, the oppressed, the suffering, and the dying- we have been called to, like Christ, bring life- the life of Christ, peace- a peace that is beyond all human understanding, a peace which only Christ can give to these people.
And that is why we read that after the Lord called the 70, He sent them out. Love is never selfish. It is never contained in itself, it is not something personal, it is not something individual. Love brings forth, it bears fruit, Love generates community. We know this with certainty because even God who is Love exists in a Trinity, a community of persons, a community of Love. And it is out of this community of Love that He chose to make man, in that image and likeness of Love. And so, we are made to Love, we are saved to Love, and that in Loving; we might bring salvation to others also. This is why we read that Our Lord sent them ahead of Him, two by two, into every town and place where He himself was about to come. The Lord therefore sends us out to where eventually He will come, to go before Him and prepare a place, a heart, a soul fitting for Him to dwell. This is also the reason why He says, ‘tell them that the kingdom of God is near’. Our lives should therefore be such that would tell people, ‘your salvation is near at hand’. Our very lives should be such that would tell people ‘Rejoice!’. Our mission, our vocation, is to cause the hearts of men to smile in hope once again, to raise the hopeless and helpless and point their eyes to the Sun, the Sun of Justice, the Sun of Love, the Sun that this time, never sets, that they may look at its rising and rejoice- that is our mission, that is our Call. Again it says, ‘He sent them out two by two’. What does this mean? Why did He not send them out individually? That shows us that even the work is to be done in communion, in union with our brothers and sisters. We all need friends, a good friend, who shares our vision, our Love, and our zeal for souls.
So how do these concern us?
In verse 2, the gospel says that the Lord said to them. ‘The harvest is plentiful and the Laborers are few. Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out Laborers into His harvest’. Brothers and sisters, we are these Laborers of the Lord sent out into His harvest to gather up proceeds for the Lord. The word Laborer reminds me of ‘Labore’ in Latin, which means ‘work’. And so it is our work brothers and sisters to tell others, to show others, this new thing, this great thing, this wonderful thing, a person that is coming to their lives. It is through our work that we invite people to hope more, to love more, and to believe more on the day of the bright Sun, which shines in their lives and dispels all the darkness.
Dearest friends, it did strike me to note that in verse 9, it says,- “Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The Kingdom of God has come near to you’.” This is our prerogative, this is our reason for being in medical school, to learn how to heal the sick- put more precisely- to work towards healing the sick. So the work has started already. But, do we realize that we are doing this for the very fact that we are Christians, sons and daughters of God, and not for our selfish gain? Have we considered that this work of ours is God’s work and that He himself is the Lord of the Harvest? Have we opened ourselves completely to Him to allow Him use us as laborers in His harvest? Are we eager to unite every suffering, pain, and discomfort we experience to the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, and like St. Paul, bear in our bodies the marks of the passion of our Lord? (Gal4:17).
Our studies dearest friends are our nearest cross, our most apparent cross, and through them we should encounter the wounded messiah and thus show Him to the world, bringing peace to troubled hearts. Have we planned to be student Doctors and professional doctors, who will serve out of Love, and not out of greed, who are ready like Pope Francis says, to caress, to touch, to kiss, to wash and to succor the wounds of Christ in the wounds of the patients we plan to treat. This should be our realization. Our studies are hence, a means for us to sanctify ourselves and to sanctify others also. That the world may look on Him who was pierced, that the world may come to glory in the cross, for they have seen the power and might of our God revealed through it- the power of Love, saving Love.
In the Gospel of Luke, Christ also gives us guidelines, for this mission, this journey. In verse 3 He says, ’Behold I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves’. Dear friends we know what danger lambs face ‘in the midst of wolves’, and we know that by this saying of our Lord, he means, I am sending you to a place that is against your principles, your identity, your values. And in this place, your values, your identity, they would try to take away. But I send you there instead to change their values, to show them the path to light, and like salt, increase and add taste to the tasteless food of their hungry souls. And so this, again, buttresses why we should be on guard, to safeguard ourselves from the dangers to our faith, our identity, our values as Christians. We need to go back and reflect on these values once again, we need to know them, understand them, be committed to them, and fight hard to be safe from the errors of the age. In verse 4, our Lord says, ‘Carry no purses, no bags, no sandals, and salute no one on the road’. The Lord asks us to practice detachment from material pleasures and comforts and learn to mortify ourselves of them. We need to raise our desires to the desires of the Children of God and not the desires of carnal men. On this journey of ours, we should learn to show by our lives, those who are entangled by the worldly fantasies that surround them that our Joy is stronger and that true Joy is only to be found when God occupies the position, when God becomes the object of our happiness, and the sole source of our Joys. The fact that our Lord asks us to carry no sandals is a further indication that the Journey is not one of comfort, but of suffering, of self-denial and of sacrifice, the same journey He undertook to save us. And so if we should be Christ to them, we should be Christ in His suffering, death, and resurrection. Elsewhere in scripture, the Lord had warned us that narrow and rough is the part that leads to Life in God.
‘Salute no one on the road’, is an indication to avoid distractions, to avoid side-attractions, to remain focused on this journey of ours, to keep our head in the game, though this time around, it is the ‘work’, so that we might worthily receive our wages. Oh! How elated I am to know that Christ speaks of healing the sick (v.9). so, we should be focused in our academics, in our studies, we should always remember what our goal is, what our purpose is, what we hope to achieve as Laborers in God’s harvest. If we obey Christ and take his yoke upon us, doing our work in conjunction with him, in his boat, we would conquer all for love conquers all things. So, our Lord warns us that when we realize that we have indeed conquered all, we should not glory in the fact that we did, but that we should glory in the fact that our names are written in heaven.
Heaven, dear friends is our final home, heaven is where all of our work will be rewarded. Heaven is where there will be no pain or suffering. Heaven is where we would have Love to its perfection. Heaven is where we will meet God, with all the hosts of His children we have called for Him, with all the fruits of the harvest we have gathered for Him, to see Him and Love Him eternally, to be eternally wrapped in those loving arms of the divine Father, and hear those wonderful words, ‘You are my beloved, You have pleased me greatly’.