One word that occurs in all three readings today is “peace”. Isaiah, in the First Reading, speaks of God sending “flowing peace, like a river”. Paul speaks of the peace and mercy that come to all who become a transformed person in Jesus Christ. And, in the Gospel, Jesus tells his disciples to bring peace with them to every house they enter.
In the Second Reading, Paul, speaking to the Galatians, says that it doesn’t matter if a person is circumcised or not. Paul is referencing a concern that was a problem in some of the communities he evangelized, because there were Judaizers who firmly believed that if Gentiles were to ‘convert’ they should still be held accountable to Jewish laws. But there is also a deeper truth that is universally applicable to all who become disciples of Christ. Ours is a faith that necessitates transformation. Jesus calls us as we are. God loves us as we are. But, unless I am on the way to becoming a genuinely transformed person in the image of Jesus, then my baptism and all my other religious experiences will have little salvific value. Meaning, that a baptized person who is living a life of unrepented sin, isn’t going to heaven just because he’s baptized. St. Paul also dealt with that issue among the Corinthians.
As Christians we ought to be bringers of peace. But we need that peace and inner security first within ourselves. Becoming a child of God through baptism is simply the only way, of becoming a new creation, an altogether person that Jesus and Paul speak about. This new person acquires a deep sense of both God’s utter transcendence and utter immanence, the God who constantly calls us beyond where we are and who, at the same time, deeply penetrates our being and our every experience. This new person, responding to the universal call to holiness, strives in Christ to live a life of increasingly perfect integrity and truth, a life of deep compassion and concern. This new person lives in freedom and abiding interior peace. It is a peace that a close following of Jesus can bring.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus recommends his disciples not to weigh themselves down with all kinds of baggage. Missionaries need to be reliant on God, they need to trust God. They must be detached from material processions. In other words, material possessions cannot occupy an inappropriate importance to them. As well, on a deeper level, the best missionaries are in fact free and at peace. That doesn’t mean that we are not ‘works in progress’ but that we are striving to be like Christ in this way and be able to reflect the glory of God freely and fully as we give witness and testimony of the saving truths of our faith in the mission field, bringing peace to every house we enter.
In a world that seems so rich and prosperous and yet is so impoverished of the security and peace it so frenetically seeks to find; we are called to become laborers with Jesus in the harvest. We are called today to labor so that our society may be gradually transformed into a place where the values of the Gospel, often so little understood even by ourselves, will prevail.
Be an oasis of peace for others in the missionary field to which you are called.
Fr. Blair Gaynes has been in the Diocese since 2008.