Luke 10:1-12; 17-20 Mission of the Seventy-Two

Jesus appointed seventy disciples and sent them on ahead of Him in pairs to every town and place where He Himself intended to go. [Lk. 10:1]

The commissioning of the seventy (or seventy-two) broadened Jesus’ mission beyond the twelve disciples.  In the last chapter (Lk 9:1-6), Jesus commissioned the Twelve, whom we might equate with the bishops, the clergy and the religious.  Here, he commissions the Seventy, whom we might equate with the laity.

Just like what he required from the  the apostles, Jesus demands from his disciples a sense of urgency, total detachment and complete abandonment to divine providence. Proclaiming the kingdom of God, therefore, becomes a responsibility for disciples in general, not just the twelve.  As Pope John Paul writes, “Missionary activity is a matter for all Christians, for all dioceses and parishes, Church institutions and associations” (Redemptoris Missio, n.2). 

In the past, most Catholics thought of “mission” and “missionary” only in terms of priests, brothers, and religious who were sent to the “foreign missions.”  This is mission is called mission ad gentes or mission to the people who have not known yet Christ as Lord and Savior. Today, we realize: “Each disciple of Christ has the obligation of spreading the faith to the best of his ability” (LG 17). PCP II asserts: “All are called to mission…all – without exception – are called evangelize” (PCP II 402).

What is our mission? Our main mission is evangelization. This is strongly echoed strongly by the Philippine Bishops:

This is EVANGELIZATION: the proclamation, above all, of SALVATION fro sin; the LIBERATION from everything oppressive to man; the DEVELOPMENT of man in all his dimensions, personal and communitarian; and ultimately, the RENEWAL OF SOCIETY in all its strata through the interplay of the GOSPEL TRUTHS and man’s concrete TOTAL LIFE (Pope Paul VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi, n. 9, 29). THIS IS OUR TASK. THIS IS OUR MISSION (cbcp, “The Bond of Love in Proclaiming the Good News, ” (Pastoral Letter in The Philippine Bishops Speak 1968-1983 (Quezon City: Maryhill School of Theology, 1984), p. 145.

This mission of the Church has given rise to numerous ministries within the Church (cf. LG 18; CCC 874) and lay apostolate. The laity, therefore, is called and sent to: 1) forming a community of families; 2) Christian presence in the world; 3 service and evangelization; and 4) social transformation (cf. PCP II 419-38).

The Lord’s call to proclaim the Good News is still valid today: indeed it is ever more urgent. The call to mission acquires a singular urgency, particularly if we look at that part of humanity which still does not know Christ or recognize Him. Like Paul, we are cursed if we do not preach the Gospel. Preach, therefore, Christ and his Gospel in season and out of season!   (Pope John Paul II, 75th anniversary of the World Mission Sunday)

The entire mission of the Church … needs apostles willing to persevere to the end, faithful to the mission received, following the same path traveled by Christ, “the path of poverty, obedience, service and self-sacrifice, even to death” (Ad gentes, 5). The entire mission of the Church needs not only bishops, priests and religious but, most of all, the majority lay men and women that can “make the Church present and fruitful in those places and circumstances where it is only through them that she can become the salt of the earth” (LG 33; cf. CL 14) such as “the vast and complex world of education, politics, society and economics, as well as the world of culture, of the sciences and the arts of international life, of the mass media” (cf. CFC 1425).

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