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Salute no one on the road

Sunday, July 08, 2007
14th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings: Isaiah 66:10-14; Psalm65; Galatians 6:14-18; Luke 10:1-12, 17-20

Jesus's instruction to his disciples, 'salute no one on the road', seems odd for three reasons. One, it seems rude. Two, it seems unChristian! And three, it seems like a very bad strategy for people who have been sent out to preach.

They are to be single-minded, focused, intent on the mission they have been set. They are not to be distracted from that task even by good things. We see this urgency in the lives of the prophets and as a result many of them are 'odd'. They do not quite fit into the normal patterns of life. There is an urgency in their task and a single-mindedness in their pursuit of it. There are many distractions, even very good ones, from which they must keep themselves free and detached if they are to concentrate on their work. The Word of God has taken possession of them and they do seem possessed at times.

The kingdom of God which is very near is also very odd. It is not just an endorsement of the way things are. If it is about a new life and if it is about a grace coming from God then there will not be a perfect fit between the world and the kingdom. Something new is being announced, something different, something strange, something not heard before.

Jesus's teaching is not then practical in the sense in which the world might want things to be practical. It is not an alternative social, political, philosophical, or economic arrangement although it has implications for all those things. It alerts us to the deepest level there is, the love of God 'deep down things', and invites us to live from there, so giving us a new and unexpected freedom. It is not an alternative way of acting, an alternative way of making community. It raises questions about all acting, about all ways of making community.

The preaching of the gospel is, at its heart, the love of God abroad in the world. So it will be odd and strange, very near (nearer than we can imagine) but troubling, puzzling, new, a matter of grace.


Mette commented on 29-Nov-2018 07:25 AM
Thank you; this was wonderfully helpful and made good sense!
Allan commented on 17-Oct-2019 09:04 PM
This phrase stood out to me as I read the Gospel. Couldn't say why till I found your post. Ah, It's about distraction! Something I'm really struggling with right now. Its a good challenge to refocus on God's Kingdom. Thank you.

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