A reflection on the liturgy on the first day of the Conference in Brigidine College, St. Ives
Luke 10: 1-11
To me, ‘gospel’ is what the early followers of Jesus wanted us to know about him – and this was from the vantage point of a generation or two after Jesus lived. It was not concerned with historical events but what was significant in terms of making sense of the message and mission. Usually the event or saying or injunction from Jesus was not part of the accepted wisdom of the time – which is why it is remembered as significant.
So what do we make of this sending off of the disciples on mission?
They were being sent to the Gentiles (or non-Jews) – why? Jesus obviously did not see the ‘reign of God’ as exclusively for the Jewish people. Those being sent are told ‘carry no purse, no bag, no sandals …’ and ‘eat what is set before you’. In other words ‘be dependent’ (not an attractive idea). But more amazingly Jesus was also telling them to accept that the rules of the purity code and all the taboos that were part of that code were to be disregarded. They were to make no fuss but accept the ways of the people they were visiting. Heady stuff and shocking – all good Jews only ate what was allowed, prepared by people who obeyed all the rules down to the last minutiae of rules and regulations. There were clear Jewish ways of behaving.
In fact, transgressions were actually being structured into the mission. Laws were not to be kept if they got in the way of relationships and community. The clear message was: ‘live the way the people live, enter into their world. Be free and brave enough to do what is right and good – irrespective of tradition or expectation’.
Therein is the hope that Kildare Ministries has to offer our world: carve out a way of being brave and strong and living that is not preoccupied with law and expectations but ways that will mirror the reign of God - a God who is not neutral but on the side of the poor and oppressed because they have no-one else.
As with these first disciples to the Gentiles, may the gospel of Kildare Ministries (when written) be able to say ‘we sensed in them that the reign of God has come near’.
Brigid Arthur csb
Trustee Kildare Ministries