Saturday, July 02, 2016

Lambs Among Wolves

For thus says the LORD: Lo, I will spread prosperity over Jerusalem like a river, and the wealth of the nations like an overflowing torrent. As nurslings, you shall be carried in her arms, and fondled in her lap; as a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; in Jerusalem, you shall find your comfort.  Isaiah 66:12-13

May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Galatians 6:14

"The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest. Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves.  Luke 10:2-3

At that very moment, he rejoiced [in] the holy Spirit and said, “I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike.  Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.  All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.”  (Luke 10:21-22)[i]

Just as Jesus transfers his parenthood over the children of God, he also shares with us his lamb-ship. The poet in Isaiah addresses the children born of Jerusalem, their mother. In v. 13, the metaphor switches to the Lord as a mother (cf. 49:15), comforting her charges but destroying the enemies.

Our journey is His journey.  The 72 disciples were sent out to the places where Jesus planned to visit.  They were making the way just like imitators of John the Baptist. Our message is his message:  The kingdom of God is at hand for you.  And that kingdom is made manifest when people eat and break bread together.  Thus the image of the Mother-God is one who feeds her children all that is good.

When we get to the Gospel, the Lord is now mother to adults.  Rather than feeding the disciples as if they were babies in need of breastmilk, the Lord sends them out to earn their supper through work at building the Kingdom – encounter by encounter. 

Chapter 10 in Luke’s Gospel builds up to two apocryphal stories:  1) the Good Samaritan and 2) the Dinner Encounter with Martha and Mary.  Both are counted among the many “meal stories” we come across as related by Luke.  But, before we get to those shared meals, we see the disciples sent out without ANY food because the Lord will provide for them through the people they encounter. The food is NOT what is important in any of these stories.  The encounter, the relationship is what really matters.

The Good Samaritan and the Dinner in Bethany teach important lessons.  First, pay more attention to those around you than the business around you.  The Samaritan preached by his actions helping the man mugged by the robber. Second, care for each other but make sure to spend time with the Lord as well.  Both are good but one is the better option.   

The commandment given to the disciples at the conclusion of the Parable of the Good Samaritan sums it all up.  “Go and do likewise.”  We are to go like the Lamb of God and act as the Lamb of God would act even when we are among the wolves of sin.

Today, we see the disciples do exactly that.  They leave the comfort zone of innocence, mother and family to proclaim the kingdom in unchartered territory.  They go out two-by-two to preach, heal and drive out demons based upon the experience they have had with Jesus. They are warned not to do anything out of a spirit of self-pride but out of the humility in knowing that their names are already engraved on the walls of heaven. Jesus reveals the Father to His disciples just as he said in the prayer that is central to Chapter 10. 

Coming from a family with Italian, Irish and German roots, holidays meant two things – parties and food. The summer holidays would be back yard cook outs with plenty of water games in the pool, sun, and food.  When the winter chill returned, the family parties moved indoors.   

Who can you help find comfort today?  On this busy holiday weekend, perhaps you will be preparing meals to share with others.  Or maybe when you have some extra time off, you can go through some closets or shelves to find items to donate to charity. Maybe others will be helping to comfort you.  Accept their gift willingly.

[i] This prayer falls in exactly the center of Luke 10.  The book is 42 verses long and this prayer is recited starting at verse 21. The mission builds to the prayer which is offered by Jesus upon the return of the 72.  It also precedes the Parable of the Samaritan and the real-life Parable of Dinner with Mary and Martha. 

No comments: