Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me. And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me (Lk 10:16).
On the surface today’s Gospel may sound like a Debbie downer of a message, but it is actually the road map, the passage that will lead us from the darkness of slavery steeped in our own sin to the light of truth and freedom in Christ. Jesus is continuing to prepare the 72 that are about to go out to proclaim his message of repentance. This echoes Mark’s recording of Jesus’ mission statement: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mk 1:15).
Sin is any actively contemplated thought, word, or action that we knowingly know goes against the will of God and we freely choose to act on it anyway. This is why many of us prefer the darkness to the light, because we do not have to see and name our sin. We hold on to apparent goods or substitutes that we believe will make us happy and fulfill us, when in actuality they are empty promises. After experiencing the lack of satisfaction, once the emotion or passion of the moment or experience wanes, we either seek more to fill the void, or hopefully, recognize the false lure. If we choose to seek more, we continue along a slippery slope of ensnarement and addiction. But if we repent, allow the light and truth of Jesus into our darkness, trust in his willing our good, we can begin to see our sin, name it, let it go, be forgiven, and be healed.
As servants of the Lord we are invited to repent, to say yes to building a relationship with him, recognize this is a daily, lifetime task, and we are willing to examine our conscience to continue to see and confess our sin. This process is not just for ourselves. We are called to bring the light of truth to those we meet. This does not mean we are perfect. The only difference is that we are more aware of our sin, because we are incrementally willing to allow the light of Jesus to shine in our darkness. We acknowledge our need to be healed, seek Jesus’ healing touch, and go forward to share that healing balm we have received from Jesus with others.
We need to resist the temptation to go forth and wag thy finger of judgment. For then we are only a darker storm cloud approaching those living in the shadows, in which those we seek to provide healing will either draw deeper into their own shell or come out fighting seeking to dispel us from their midst. May we instead encounter one another with understanding, mercy, patience, understanding, and love. We need to remember that in the beginning, our light needs to be soft, like the morning dawn, so as not to blind those we seek to offer an invitation to, those to whom we call from the shadows.
May we embody and sing the Canticle of Zechariah, father of John the Baptist: “In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace” (Lk 1:76-79). May we resist being barriers preventing access to Jesus and instead help to prepare the way for others to encounter Jesus.
Jesus, this day and each day going forward, may we, with you by our side, strive to meet those you place in our path with warmth, welcome, and joy. May we respect the person before us, accept them, be present and accompany them, so that they may know that they are not alone, that they in fact do exist, that they matter, that they are loved as you love us. May we be like the first light of dawn to help awaken those in the darkness of their pain, suffering, and sin, so to be a lamp unto their feet and a light unto their path, that leads to an encounter and embrace with you; our Truth, our Way, and our Life. “Guide us Lord, along the everlasting way” (cf Psalm 139).