Lk 10:1-12, 17-20 or 10:1-9
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“The reign of God is at hand.” This cry from today’s Gospel is what our preaching is all about: a Kingdom has already arrived, created by God and having its own characteristics established by God. The fact that it is among us, that it is “at hand,” forces a crisis. We must decide today to join it, or more accurately, to let it take hold of us. If that is our decision, or has been already, then we are called to live accordingly.
This reign, or kingdom, is described by the Church’s liturgy on as “A kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love, and peace” (Preface, Feast of Christ the King). These characteristics all hold together inseparably and integrally, because they are all aspects of the one God, who is the Kingdom. They can all be summarized by any of the individual words, and today’s first reading and Gospel passage summarize them by the word “peace.”
The apostles are sent to proclaim “peace,” just as Isaiah proclaimed to Jerusalem (representing God’s people blessed with the Covenant). This is not a peace we construct with our diplomatic, political, military or creative skills. It is a peace we receive from on high. But there is, then, an appropriate response that follows from us. We are to prepare the way to receive this peace by repenting of what destroys it, and then we are to live in accordance with the demands of that peace.
Respect for everyone’s right to life, beginning with the unborn from fertilization, and including all the disabled and terminally ill, is absolutely essential to peace. Peace is not lost when guns are fired or bombs dropped. Rather, peace is lost as soon as the human rights of even a single individual are violated. Our neighborhoods may seem “peaceful,” but if an abortion clinic is operating in our midst, there is no peace, because the human rights of those unborn children are violated as they are dismembered. Moreover, anywhere in a nation where an unborn child is not protected is a place where there is not yet peace.
To pursue and preserve peace means not only that we do not participate in abortion; it means we do not tolerate it. It means we work vigorously to restore respect and protection to every human life.
The sixth chapter of Jeremiah is a passage that contrasts with today’s first reading. It speaks of the siege of Jerusalem. God says that some prophets spoke falsely because “They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace” (Jer. 6:14). So it is today if God’s people seek justice, mercy, and peace, while failing to see how serious is our wound when we allow abortion. There cannot be peace in the world if there is no peace in the womb. There cannot be peace between nations if there is no peace between a mother and her own child. As Mother Teresa asked in her 1994 National Prayer Breakfast speech, “If we say that a mother can kill her own child, how can we tell people not to kill each other?”
The reign of God is at hand, and it is a Culture of Life.