Who Are the 72?
I always tell people to be careful on social media and something struck me yesterday. Apparently, there was a significant voice in some circles who was suspended from Twitter because of something he said.
Apparently, the Twitter world got angry and the authorities at Twitter suspended his account. It was reading this in the news that I came to understand something.
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We were never meant to communicate to the whole world. It was never meant that if I say something here in the parish that the whole world will hear it although that is what happens. The reason? We were created to build communities and work as a community. This is why the Catholic parish is so important. In fact, one reason community organizers do not like the church is that the model of community life in the Church terrifies them.
This brings me to my point. Notice the Gospel reading. What is it that Jesus does? He sends out 72 disciples to preach the word, heal the sick and cast out demons. Notice there are 72 so this group clearly was not the apostles. If by chance there were apostles then a full 60 were not apostles. Notice also we have no idea if they were all men, all women or men and women. I suspect the latter.
Well, let me ask you a question, who are the 72 today. We know that the descendants of the Apostles are the bishops. However, they are the descendants of twelve men. So who are the descendants of the 72? Are you ready? You are.
You have been called to bring the healing message of Christ. At times, Jesus uses some people to actually heal people and you have a calling to bring the message of the Gospel to others.
What does this have to do with the story? Because in these smaller groups, we can bring a strong ministry of healing and acceptance and call to holiness to others because the large worldwide forums are just too impersonal to be really effective.
This person on Twitter was cast off because he took a message that belonged to a more localized community and spread it throughout the world. We must bring our message to those around us and let those in other countries bring it to their people in a way that best suits them.
This is the power of the church model that Jesus created. Many will say that Jesus did not come to create a church. I would disagree with them but they also forget that the early churches were smaller communities.
I am no liberation theologian but one part of it that is essential is creating what is known as a communidad de base, which means a base community. It actually means to create a small community of believers who bring the power of the Gospel into the lives of many and address their issues from there.
I am not talking about miracle healing but did you know that the Archdiocese has created medical groups to assist the parish. It is called community nursing, I worked with a great retired nurse in my last pastorate and wish I could do that here. We need to pray to and for each other. Maybe even directly. Teach each other how to deepen our faith in Christ by sharing our prayer experience and the fruits of our life. We do that and this builds the parish because this was the model that Jesus created in this Gospel.
What about miracles? One problem we have with miracles is everyone is looking for them. That is a problem. The reason is that God’s miracles are numerous and constant. There are powerful miracles we can see at certain times and talk about but there are others that happen every day.
When people suffer from terrible depression and someone passing by just smiles at them, that can bring some deep relief from depression at least for a time. It is never planned. You don’t see that as God working in someone’s life?
When someone is about to sin and the phone rings and changes the person’s plans. That is a miracle.
Do I know the more powerful miracles? Yes, lots of them. Others as well. My mother was never healed of her crippling disease but her living through it taught us so much. My father taught us so much about faithfulness in marriage because he did so much to help my mother as she slowly lost her ability to move.
These are powerful miracles no one talks about. I told you the most powerful form of exorcism is the sacrament of reconciliation. However, there is nothing that happens there that you can create a movie about.
Someday I will tell you the greater miracle stories, including what I call the Pentecost miracle at the Cathedral.
So you are the 72 and that is what your baptism is all about.
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