Every farmer looks forward to the Harvest time because it declares the success of the planting and nurturing season. Most People mark the plentiful harvest season with thanksgiving to God, who provides the rain, air, sun, and other natural and supernatural preconditions for plants and animals to strive and multiply. The harvest time brings joy and celebration. The Psalmist (Ps. I26 5-6) says: “May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy. Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, carrying their sheaves”.
Beyond the physical harvest of crops and livestock, the Bible also talks about spiritual harvest, which involves the reaping of fruits of our spiritual and attitudinal seeds. The book of Proverbs (18:20) says that from the fruit of the mouth one’s stomach is satisfied; the yield of the lips brings satisfaction. St. Paul writing to the Galatians (6:9) advises that we should not lose heart in doing good for in due season (harvest time) we would reap if we do not give up. And for the Apostle James, (Jas. 3:18), the seed whose harvest is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
In the Gospel Reading of this Sunday (Luke 10:1-12,17-20) our Lord Jesus Christ gives the harvest-time a new meaning, and it involves harvest of lives for God through the missionary work of those he sends out to evangelize the people. The Gospel reading begins with the appointment of the seventy-two others whom he sends out in pairs to every town and place he intends to visit. Remarkably, he gives them the “dos” and “don’t” of the mission. Finally, they report their mission, and our Lord gives a concluding appraisal.
He appoints seventy-two others and sends them out in pairs, why?
The preceding chapter (Luke 9:1ff) tells us about the mission of the twelve apostles to whom the Lord gives the power and authority over demons and to cure diseases. Now our Lord is recruiting seventy-two others to function as laborers in the vast harvest.
The mission of the seventy-two reminds us of the seventy elders in the story of Moses, who would help him in the administration of the people according to God’s command (Numbers 11:16-30). The appointment of seventy-two unnamed disciples after the twelve apostles tells us that the work of evangelization is open for every Christian though in different ways.
Further, sending them in pairs shows that everyone needs someone. In the Book of Genesis (2:18), God makes it clear that it is not good for the man to be alone. A famous saying goes that “two heads are better than one.” This is very true in the missionary works as we could see in the ministry of the early Christians. Peter collaborated with John (Acts 3:1-12), Paul ministered with Barnabas at one point (Act 13:2; 14:8-18) and Silas at another time (Acts 16:16-40) and according to our Lord Jesus Christ, when two on earth agree about anything, they ask for it shall be done (Matt. 18:19).
They should carry nothing, why?
Taking nothing for the journey could have been one of the most challenging parts of the narrative. It would be unimaginable and even weird to go on a trip without a little bag for personal effects. Let us review the instruction in this regard, “carry no money, bag, no sack, no sandals;”. Here, our Lord tries to lead the disciples through the path of detachment from material concerns and to focus on the mission. In our day and age, we can attest to the amount of distraction we get from our mobile devices as we try to maintain communication and stay connected with the events around the world. One of the challenges facing most preachers in the world today is the attachment to material possessions and gains.
Added to the instruction of traveling light, the directive further tells them not to greet anyone on the road, nor move from house to house and to eat whatever that is set before them. All these relate to the same fact of detachment, which is crucial in the work of evangelization.
Moving Forward: The Fruits of Peace, Joy, and Salvation
“Into whatever house you enter, first say, peace to this household…” Peace is at the heart of the good news. Peace is not the absence of war; it means being calm in the face of tribulation and knowing that everything is in God’s hands. The world cannot give peace; instead, peace comes from God (John 14:27). Peace is both a seed and fruit of the work of evangelization. We could recall that when Jesus rose from the dead, his first statement to his disciples was “peace be unto you” (John 20:21).
The Gospel reports that the seventy-two were joyful at the success of their work. There is joy in serving the Lord, and it gives strength (Nehemiah 8:10). Joy is a gift of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22) that moves us to have good feelings and appreciation towards God for His power around us.
While the seventy-two rejoice about the success of their ministry, our Lord tells them to direct their joy at the salvation of their souls, which consists in having their names in the book of life in heaven. What our Lord is stating here is that our efforts in the work of God should have a long-term goal, namely, being finally with God in heaven. Our Lord Jesus Christ asked, “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” (Mark 8:36).
As we reflect on the mission of the seventy-two, we need to take time to look inward and to gauge our disposition towards the good news through detachment and commitment. God bless you.