The Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
In the first reading we hear: Rejoice! Be glad! Rejoice!
In the second reading: Peace and mercy be to all.
And then in the Gospel: Peace to this household; rejoice because your names are written in heaven.
Do we rejoice? Are we Glad? Do we believe that our names are written in heaven? Or do we get caught in the ordinary daily grind of our lives that we forget to see all the blessings we have and rejoice?
We know the message of this gospel: Yes, the harvesters are few and the harvest is abundant. And like the 72, we are also sent out to bring peace and mercy. We are sent to discern the peaceful household and leave the town that does not receive us. Despite the choice of welcome or lack of hospitality, do we realize that the message is the same: “the kingdom of heaven is near at hand” for both categories of receptivity.
What is this kingdom of heaven? Honestly, the word “kingdom “ has never spoken to me. Actually, I struggle with it because I image a hierarchical phenomena, or something way out of my reach as a simple nun in my community. The word “reign” doesn’t help me either. However, if I substitute the word “presence” for kingdom, I am much more comfortable. The presence of God is “now,” heaven is now; it is so near me, I overlook it, I miss it. Jesus knew the deep presence of God and could promote this message with conviction and hope. Do we get it or are we like the 72? When Jesus had to set them straight: “No, no this journey is not about having power over spirits; it is about your name written in heaven. It is about my presence dwelling within you.”
The message for me is simply: Rejoice and be glad, because God is dwelling within you, you are called by name. Be love and be peace. Harvest this truth within yourself and harvest it within all you meet: God is an indwelling God with in all beings, matter and energy. That is the abundant harvest! Rejoice and be glad, the presence of God is close at hand.
Marie Therese (MT) Summers, OSB