Jesus Breaks the Cycle of Violence
7 July 2019 – Proper 9, Lectionary 14
Luke 10:1-11, 16-20
Today’s gospel story is about Jesus’ mission to the seventy. He is very clear about his desire to have the disciples proclaim God’s reign. He alludes to the richness of the harvest, the shortage of laborers and the possible danger involved in the task. Apparently his friends will be going on ahead to the places he will visit on his way to Jerusalem. His instructions are very detailed, including helps on how they should act when well received and poorly received. In his whole message, the importance of the coming of the kingdom is emphasized.
When the disciples return joyful from their experience of power and success, Jesus points out the priorities that should be theirs (v 20). . .
The Jesus who refused to be a military or political messiah, who did not cling to his equality with God but emptied himself (Philippians 2:6–7) and died on the cross for the sake of a new creation (Galatians 6:15) speaks to us today of power that differs from our usual understanding of the word. Rather than choose a path of might and physical force, Jesus chose a path that required strength and fortitude of spirit. His nonviolent resistance to the powers of his world unmasked the inhumanity of oppression and tyranny for all time and in all places. Refusing to yield to hatred, he broke the cycle of violence and planted the seeds of peace as he cried: “Father, forgive them” (Luke 23:34). –– Mary Elizabeth Kenel
Joy prevails: “Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for the city, all you who love her” (Isaiah 66:10). We become aware that the Jerusalem residents, recently returned from their exile in Babylon (Iraq), were downcast upon finding their home city destroyed. The prophet uses multiple images to console them. Jerusalem’s prosperity is promised in these words: “You shall suck; you shall be carried upon her hip / set upon her knees. / As a child is comforted by its mother, / so I will comfort you; / you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.”
The people’s sadness will be dispelled by virtue of God’s comfort, for they are loved with the tenderness of a mother. The image of “the hand of the Lord” refers to God’s power. All who look on Jerusalem’s offspring will be aware of God’s sustenance. They shall enjoy new life and the fullness of joy; they shall “flourish like grass.” –– Mary Elizabeth Kenel
Galatians 6:[1-6] 7-16
The cross in which Paul boasts. . . is the weapon of choice for all who realize that military might is not the only manifestation of power. Striving to penetrate the wisdom of the cross, we bring ourselves into alignment with gospel values that present power as service. . .
Confronted with the limits of human understanding, we come to recognize the cross as a sign of the reconciliation of opposites, the revelation of a truth that is greater than we, operating out of our usual categories of knowledge, can encompass. –– Mary Elizabeth Kenel
Mary Elizabeth Kenel is a writer and clinical psychologist with a practice in Washington, D.C.
Homily Service 37, nos. 8 (2004): 3-11