On Tuesday, October 18, 2016, we celebrated the feast of Saint Luke, apostle and evangelist, a companion of Saint Paul and primary composer of the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles. We know that he was a Syrian physician from Antioch, a gentile or non-Jew. He directs his Gospel to the gentiles, helping to make the message more understandable to those from a non-Jewish background. It is also known as the Gospel of Mercy because he features several unique parables found only in his Gospel: the sinful woman, the lost sheep and coin, the prodigal son and the good thief.
In the liturgy for the feast day the Gospel selection is Luke 10:1-9 where Jesus sends out the seventy two disciple’s in pairs. An efficiency expert might suggest, send them out one by one as we do today, arming people with electronic support. Obviously in those days, people traveled on foot, sometimes by beast of burden and occasionally by water. I mean a disciple could cover more ground alone. But Jesus then and now recognizes their need for companionship and support. If one falters the other provides backup and vice versa. It is easier with two people to provide mutual support, and encouragement in those moments of discouragement when proclaiming the gospel message.
When two people give witness they can share their goals and values. No matter how difficult the situation might be, the journey becomes less stressful when two people share the load. Indeed the presence of a loved one can make any situation less foreboding, less daunting and affords both of them the opportunity to share the joy when the message is welcomed, received and heard.
Saint Paul relished the support of those around him, in particular, Luke. Who are the people in our lives who give us support in our faith life? Who are the people in our lives with whom we can share our struggles in faith, our joys and our sorrows? If the great apostle and disciple Paul could benefit from his companions, if Jesus could benefit from his relationship with Martha, Mary and Lazarus, what about us?
How is it we think at times we can go it alone, without the support of others, whether the church faith community, or even our own families? I hope you have someone to turn to at home, or you connect with certain people here at Saint Anthony parish or elsewhere. Some of you have chosen ARISE (small faith sharing groups) as one way to receive support on your faith journey. For we know that God is present when we engage in common ministry. “Where two or three are gathered, I am present in your midst,” says the Lord. Let us give thanks for those who serve with us, knowing that our love and support allows God to be present among us, strengthening our faith and strengthening our witness, our ministry, our call to be disciples in the world.
Blessings, Father Larry Hendel, Pastor