(Adults, you could begin by reading the Gospel aloud to the child. Alternatively, you could read the first paragraph of the reflection to the child, then read the Gospel, and then continue with the reflection.)
In the Gospel last week, we heard about Jesus beginning the journey to Jerusalem. In order to get to there, Jesus and his disciples must travel through Samaria, a part of Israel not friendly towards the Jewish people. We heard that he sends out messengers before him, to make people ready to receive him. The Gospel for this Sunday picks up that story with Jesus sending out a very large number of disciples.
The Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go.
He sends them out, each with a buddy. They walk together. No one is alone as they work for the Lord.
“The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.
We know that when grain and fruit ripen, people harvest the crop. They gather all the seeds of wheat, they pick all the grapes. The wheat is made into bread, the grapes into wine. Jesus says the harvest is plentiful. There is much to be gathered. Are the disciples being sent into fields and vineyards?
Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road.
No. Jesus is sending them into Samaria and he knows what his disciples think of the people of Samaria. They think Samaritans are like wolves. They think they are the enemy. They know Samaritans and Jewish people do not get along. Jesus tells them not to bring a purse or bag full of money someone might steal. He tells them not to greet Samaritans walking by. He knows there is danger. So why does Jesus send them out?
“Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house!’ And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you.
Jesus sends them, not into fields and vineyards for the harvest, but into the Samaritans' homes. The disciples bring peace. Who does the peace belong to? Jesus wants to give the Samaritans a chance to share in that peace.
“Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’
Some people will welcome the disciples. Some people will welcome peace. Some people will be ready to meet Jesus. Jesus is sure of it. The Kingdom of God comes near.
“But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.’
Some people will not welcome the disciples; they will not welcome peace; they will not be ready to meet Jesus. Jesus is sure of that, too. But notice, the Kingdom of God comes near to them, too.
Jesus gives the disciples a share of the work of the Kingdom, spreading its peace. The disciples bring the Kingdom near. The people of Samaria who do not know Jesus yet, get a chance to encounter the Kingdom of God. They get a chance. Take it or leave it. What will they do?
The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!”
What kind of harvest do the disciples bring back to Jesus? Wheat? Grapes?
Nope. Joy. So much joy. The harvest is plentiful. The people of Samaria listened. Even demons listened. The disciples spread peace. They brought the Kingdom of God near and there is so much joy.
We know that in our Baptism, we are invited into the work of the Kingdom. We are invited to spread peace, too. We are not sent alone. Who are our buddies who do this work with us? We can name the people we know. God gives them to us so that we can help bring the Kingdom of God near.
Jesus says the harvest is plentiful. How much joy will we return?