Luke 10:1-11, 16-20 (NRSV)
Chapter 10After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. Verse 2He said to them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Verse 3Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Verse 4Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. Verse 5Whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace to this house!' Verse 6And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. Verse 7Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. Verse 8Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; Verse 9cure the sick who are there, and say to them, 'The kingdom of God has come near to you.' Verse 10But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, Verse 11'Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.' Verse 16"Whoever listens to you listens to me, and whoever rejects you rejects me, and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me."
Verse 17The seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!" Verse 18He said to them, "I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. Verse 19See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. Verse 20Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven."
At the direction of Jesus his seventy disciples are told to go out two by two without any belongings other than the message they are to proclaim: that the kingdom of God has come near. When they return from their mission their success is celebrated.
In some ways this story of missionary success may be a difficult or embarrassing one for the church today. In general, we probably tend to imagine the task of evangelism as belonging to a committee in the church, and probably much less as belonging to each member. Is this what Jesus was asking in these verses? Have we turned our witnessing into how the world would have us do it, with only a few professional disciples charged with the task? The gospel reading today asks each of us to move about the world carrying the Good News and the transforming power of its message.
God, be with all your disciples so that each may witness to the saving grace of our Savior. Grant them wisdom and courage to go out in service of your mission. Amen.