TUESDAY 26TH JANUARY 2021. MEMORIAL OF SAINTS TIMOTHY AND TITUS- BISHOPS 2ND TIMOTHY 1:1-18. PSALM 96:1-10 LUKE 10:1-9 You know the meaning of a word or a sentence not by what it says but by what it does, by what impact it has on you, and the only way you know what a word actually means is by paying attention to what it does to you. Words do things like providing information, urging action, offering a warning, scolding or insulting someone, making a threat or offering a blessing. In today's Gospel passage, Jesus says and does a number of things that could be interpreted as either good news or bad, depending on how they impact you. If Jesus appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he intended to go, we may ask: Is seventy enough? Is it a large number? If Jesus said to them that the harvest is plentiful but the labourers are few and they should therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest; is this a crisis, a challenge or an opportunity?
When Jesus says, " carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road, " is this caution or a trust exercise?
What do words do to you? What do words mean to you? Do we hear good news or bad news from these words of Jesus especially when a lot of emphasis on defining and claiming one's identity and when drawing lines between who is in and who is out has become popular? When Jesus says, " But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into the 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, do we take his words seriously without falling prey to the temptation to define who we are in terms of who we are not, or worse, over and against others? Our main point here is not just looking at what the words of Jesus say but mostly what they do. The words of Jesus offer information, they tell the disciples to do or not to do something, they also warn but above all, they do something , that is, they make a promise.
Despite all that Jesus has said, he has not forgotten to say: Yet know this - the Kingdom of God has come near. These words may call us to account but ultimately they do teach us that identity is not something earned or asserted or fought over or claimed and gained at someone else's loss. Identity is something conferred as a gift.
In the First Reading when Paul reminds Timothy of his identity he is insisting more on preservation than on innovation or assertion.
We should not see today's Gospel passage as a moment of identifying and labelling who accepts God's message and who rejects it.
We may describe each other based on our reception of God's word or lack of accepting it based on many social, gender, occupational, cultural, political or economic situations but these do not define us.
What defines us is how God sees us in terms of what God's word does to us. Today we have the opportunity to let God's word do something to us and on us as it did to Timothy and Titus by making them confident and loving in their faith.