Date: Sunday, July 03, 2022
I try to reflect upon the Sunday readings a week beforehand. The Word stays with me during the week and events of the week give me “a handle” or insight into Sacred Scripture. I have been away for five days in London with my sister Mary. Our travel adventures have been a help breaking open the Word of God.
On Monday we visited Churchill’s War Room where the Prime Minister and his cabinet conducted affairs under ground during the bombing of the city in WWII. We listened to speeches of Churchill forewarning the nation of “blood, sweat and tears” and the hope of ultimate victory. Today the city of London has been rebuilt and prosperous. Isaiah, the prophet, encourages the Jewish exiles, who have returned to the Holy City, that their mourning will turn into joy. Using a metaphor of a nursing mother, Isaiah speaks of God’s comfort for the Jewish people living in and rebuilding the city of Jerusalem. God is restoring the city and renewing the people. As we ready to celebrate the 4th of July, our nation is challenged by God’s justice and transformed by the promise of God’s grace.
On Tuesday we took a train to Canterbury to visit the Cathedral were St. Thomas a Becket was murdered after King Henry II had incited his knights “who will rid me of this cleric.” After Thomas’ martyrdom, Canterbury became a place of pilgrimage. A later Henry, King Henry XIII, after he assumed control and became effective head of the Church of England, wanted to end the Cathedral as a destiny for pilgrims. He ordered the removal of the body, the relics, of Thomas. Today, a work of art by Anthony Gormley, in the shape of a human body, made with the nails from the roof that covered the crypt, hangs suspended over Thomas’ burial place. It is entitled “Transport.” In our 2nd reading, St. Paul writes to the Galatians that he “will never boast except in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ.” He adds “I bear the marks of Jesus on my body.” For St. Paul, his own personal suffering unites him to Jesus on the cross. We are reminded that there is a cost to follow Jesus.
Whenever my sister Mary and I paused to get a sense of where we were going in the city of London, multiple times, people asked us if they could help. When we were searching for the Globe Theatre one woman said it was on her way and walked with us. We found the people in London, Canterbury and in Moreton in Marsh wonderfully hospitable, kind, and friendly. In our Gospel Jesus sends 72 disciples ahead of him to every town and village he intended to visit. Jesus underscores the urgency of the mission, warns them of danger and bids them to travel light. “Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals.” Disciples must trust in God’s providence that there will be some along “the way” who will receive their message that the “Kingdom of God is at hand” and offer hospitality. Hospitality and welcome are hallmarks of an authentic faith community. We too are commissioned like the “72” to announce God’s coming Kingdom in our words and especially in our deeds. We are entrusted with same power to heal, to cast out demons, and to forgive. It is harvest time.