The following is a reflection given by Sr. Janet M. Peterworth at St. William Church in Louisville, Kentucky on July 3, 2022.
“And the Lord said, go. And I said who me?
And he said, yes, you. And I said, but I am not ready yet
And there is company coming, and I can’t leave the kids,
And you know there’s no one to take my place.
And he said, you’re stalling.
And the Lord said, go
And I said, but I don’t want to.
And he said, I didn’t ask if you wanted to.
And I said, listen I’m not the kind of person to get involved in controversy,
Besides my father won’t like it, and what will the neighbors think?
And he said, baloney.
And yet a third time the Lord said, go. And I said do I have to?
And he said, do you love me?
And I said, look I’m scared. People are going to hate me and cut me up in little pieces.
I can’t take it all by myself.
And he said where do you think I’ll be?
The Lord said, go. and I sighed,
Here I am, send me.”
(Anonymous, Marriage Encounter, Fond du Lac, Wisconsin)
Now, I did not write those words, though I wish I had. I found them in my files. However, they made me wonder. . .
Do you think there were any among the 72 who might have argued with Jesus like that when he was ready to send them out? Do you think there were any among the 12 who talked to the Rabbi like that when He told them to go to the ends of the earth? Have you ever had that conversation yourself with Jesus, the Christ? I know I have.
Wouldn’t it be easier to stay all warm and tucked in, sucking at the full breasts of Mother God? Wouldn’t it be a safer place than hitting the road with no money or staff and no sandals? Who goes on a trip like that so ill prepared? No wonder so few want to work the harvest! No wonder! But what would make it better? Would we go if we could drive a Tesla or wear Birkenstocks? Would it be easier if we stayed in a nice Air B & B with people who liked us? Would it be easier if we didn’t know we were being sent as lambs among wolves? I think it would be easier if we could, at least, speak to people and make friends along the journey to the harvest. But no, Jesus would have us do none of these.
And yet, all those things would make going into the harvest easier. But, sometime, even Mother God, El Shaddai, the full breasted one, needs to wean her babes away. Sometimes she must use wormwood to make comfort bitter. Or maybe vinegar spray, or maybe just a firm “no.”
Sometime those going to the harvest, need to hear Jesus saying “no walking stick, no sandals, no sack, no more of Mother-God’s tits, no more of her milk, nothing. Just let go and get moving. I will be there, the kindom of God will be there. Let go and let God as the poster says.”
And then what will happen? Well, many centuries later, Angela Merici, foundress of the Ursuline Sisters (echoing Jesus), told her daughters what would happen. She said, “Do something, get moving, be confident, risk new things, stick with it, get on your knees, then be ready for big surprises.” So, what will happen? Big surprises!
I think the 72 had big surprises. They came back doing a happy dance. “OMG even the demons are subject to us,” they said. “And now on top of that, you say you are also going to do what? Give us the power to tread on serpents and scorpions and nothing will harm us?” Wow!
I wonder if we have ever been surprised by how El Shaddai has used us? Have you ever had one of those experiences where someone has said to you, “Thanks for what you said to me last year when you…´or “You will never know how much I appreciated what you did for me when” …or “Your card really meant so much to me. It was just what I needed to hear.” That has happened to me more than once. And those affirmations made me feel just like the 72, happy and successful.
But, in the end it is Jesus’ words that we need to keep in mind. “Remember don’t rejoice because all those successes came from the Spirit at work in you. Rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.”
May it be so!
Thus says the LORD:
Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad because of her,
all you who love her;
exult, exult with her,
all you who were mourning over her!
Oh, that you may suck fully
of the milk of her comfort,
that you may nurse with delight
at her abundant breasts!
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.
When you see this, your heart shall rejoice
and your bodies flourish like the grass;
the LORD’s power shall be known to his servants.
At that time the Lord appointed seventy-two others
whom he sent ahead of him in pairs
to every town and place he intended to visit.
He said to them,
“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.
Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals;
and greet no one along the way.
Into whatever house you enter, first say,
‘Peace to this household.’
If a peaceful person lives there,
your peace will rest on him;
but if not, it will return to you.
Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you,
for the laborer deserves his payment.
Do not move about from one house to another.
Whatever town you enter and they welcome you,
eat what is set before you,
cure the sick in it and say to them,
‘The kingdom of God is at hand for you.’
Whatever town you enter and they do not receive you,
go out into the streets and say,
‘The dust of your town that clings to our feet,
even that we shake off against you.’
Yet know this: the kingdom of God is at hand.
I tell you,
it will be more tolerable for Sodom on that day than for that town.”
The seventy-two returned rejoicing, and said,
“Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name.”
Jesus said, “I have observed Satan fall like lightning from the sky.
Behold, I have given you the power to ‘tread upon serpents’ and scorpions
and upon the full force of the enemy and nothing will harm you.
Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you,
but rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”
Lk 10:1-12, 17-20