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 found in dedicating our life to 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 sins. We hold on to apparent goods or substitutes that we believe will make us happy and fulfill us, otherwise we would not hold on to them. 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 that he truly wills our good, we can begin to see our sin, name it, let it go, be forgiven, be healed, and fulfilled by receiving the love of God and deepening of our relationship with him for whom we have been created.
As servants of the Lord, we are invited to repent, to realign ourselves in such a way that we are saying yes to building a relationship with God, recognizing that this is a daily, lifetime task of examining our conscience to continue to see and confess our sins. 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. Through the awareness and confession of our sins, we are incrementally more open to receiving the love and light of Jesus within us, such that he can shine his light through us into another’s darkness and gently guide them to come out of the shadows.
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 we seek to provide healing. They will either draw deeper into their own shell or come out fighting seeking to dispel us from their midst. Jesus sends us to instead encounter one another with understanding, mercy, patience, understanding, and love. We also 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.
May we embody the Canticle of Zechariah: “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). Let us no longer be barriers preventing access to Jesus and instead help to prepare the way for others to encounter him.
Jesus, this day and each day going forward, please dwell within us. Help us to be open to those you place on our path that we may be present to them with your warmth, welcome, and joy. May we respect each person we encounter, accept, 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 the 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. Amen.