Jesus appointed seventy-two other disciples whom he sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit. He said to them, "The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest. Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; and greet no one along the way. Into whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace to this household.' If a peaceful person lives there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you. Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you, for the laborer deserves his payment. Do not move about from one house to another. Whatever town you enter and they welcome you, eat what is set before you, cure the sick in it and say to them, 'The Kingdom of God is at hand for you.' Whatever town you enter and they do not receive you, go out into the streets and say, 'The dust of your town that clings to our feet, even that we shake off against you.' Yet know this: the Kingdom of God is at hand. I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom on that day than for that town."
Seventy-two persons, each one with a different story. Seventy-two hearts beating their respective rhythms. Seventy-two lives laid out under the sky. Seventy-two pairs of eyes hanging at the Lord's lips. And seventy-two times the message was the same: “Go on your way.”
We all find ourselves in different life situations. The landscape you stand in is unique. The word of God, as it descends from the heights, winds its way through the features of that landscape and, when meeting you, has adopted the unique character of a message for you and for you alone. Seventy-two were sent; but not in mass but each one personally. Are you ready to be sent?
When St. Luke wrote down the words of today's Gospel, the letters he chose encapsulated the Good News with the specific expressions which we, and the readers of all times, hear. And yet, his words are alive with the Holy Spirit and they find us personally where we are. They address our hearts in the specific situation we find ourselves in now. They are the Word of God.
Thus, there aren't seventy-two pairs of eyes which Jesus is looking at, there are far more. Among the group stand people of all times and places. Persons like St. Francis of Assisi, who the Church remembers today. Like many others, he heard the Lord's voice throughout the centuries and felt His eyes glancing at his soul through the pages of St. Luke's Gospel. “I am sending you like lambs among wolves,” it reads. What do these words mean when they echo in the landscape of your life? Francis was ready. In spite of his poverty, he was rich; rich in communion, braveness and conviction.
Jesus sent Saint Francis out into the world to testify how essential it is for a Christian to imitate Our Lord's lifestyle coherently. But before sending Him out, Jesus called Francis to come closer. As a matter of fact, Our Lord does not send us out immediately or impulsively. For, by itself, a sheep would not last an hour among a wolfpack. First, Jesus peacefully assembles His disciples, He lets them experience His love, and forms them in the faith. Only then does He commission them to share what they have received. Before Jesus allowed the wolves to surround Francis, He made his heart brave with His peace. Before Jesus let Francis face danger, He made his soul invincible with His love. Before Jesus commanded Francis to address the sinners, He taught his mind the convictions of faith. The peace of communion, the braveness of love, the conviction of faith - these are the truest riches for the treasury of the life of an apostle. These were the riches of poor Saint Francis. Jesus had given out these riches to him generously. And the greater the gift, the stronger the commission. The fuller the treasury, the clearer the echo: Go and share!