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MARCH 17. LENT. ST PATRICK LK. 10. 1-12, 17-20

The Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them out ahead of him, in pairs, to all the towns and places he himself was to visit. He said to them, ‘The harvest is rich but the labourers are few, so ask the Lord of the harvest to send labourers to his harvest. Start off now, but remember, I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Carry no purse, no haversack, no sandals. Salute no one on the road.

‘Whatever house you go into, let your first words be, “Peace to this house!” And if a man of peace lives there, your peace will go and rest on him; if not, it will come back to you. Stay in the same house, taking what food and drink they have to offer, for the labourer deserves his wages; do not move from house to house.

‘Whenever you go into a town where they make you welcome, eat what is set before you. Cure those in it who are sick, and say, “The kingdom of God is very near to you.” But whenever you enter a town and they do not make you welcome, go out into its streets and say, “We wipe off the very dust of your town that clings to our feet, and leave it with you. Yet be sure of this: the kingdom of God is very near.” I tell you, on that day it will not go as hard with Sodom as with that town.’

The seventy-two came back rejoicing. ‘Lord,’ they said ‘even the devils submit to us when we use your name.’ He said to them, ‘I watched Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Yes, I have given you power to tread underfoot serpents and scorpions and the whole strength of the enemy; nothing shall ever hurt you. Yet do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you; rejoice rather that your names are written in heaven.’

The focus of this reading, on the Feast of Saint Patrick is clearly on the need for the Gospel to be proclaimed, and Christ’s words; - “The harvest is rich but the labourers are few, so ask the Lord of the harvest to send labourers to his harvest”; - certainly apply just as much today as they did in Christ’s day.

The circumstances and the environment however are now very different in that Saint Patrick travelled to foreign lands that had no knowledge of Christ or the Gospels. Today no such lands exist as missionaries have been to them all, and in one sense the need to send out missionaries is no longer needed.

The need today is for Christians everywhere to bear witness to the teachings of the Gospel!

Sadly, because of the influence of The World, The Flesh, and the Devil, the “living of the Gospel” has become a very private activity for many of us, where the focus is on “me”, rather than on “us” as the Mystical Body of Christ.

Certainly, there is a need for a private component to one’s Faith, via Prayer and Sacrament, but it is very easy for Christians to allow this to become the “only” component, and for the needs of the Church to be “overlooked!”

This is contrary to what Christ is asking in today’s teaching where the needs of Christ’s Mystical Body are being highlighted! Not many of us are called to “preach” in the way Saint Patrick was called to do; - but all of us are called to give the same concern for the needs of the Church as we give to our own spiritual growth; - a “call” many of us can easily “overlook”!

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