Place your hope in the joy of heaven

| Deacon Marcus Milless | July 1, 2013 | 0 Comments

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In 1492, Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue and discovered the New World. Imagine the joy he experienced in his discovery after two months of hardship. Then, imagine the even greater joy he had in sharing these experiences with his friends.

In today’s Gospel, the 72 disciples go out to proclaim the good news of the kingdom of heaven and heal the sick. They return to Jesus with great joy like Christopher Columbus returning to Spain after his first voyage, because they had experienced the blessings of success.

In the midst of all their trials and tribulations, they were able to meet the great challenge of Jesus Christ. They were able to bring healing and the good news to people through the power of Christ Jesus. You can hear the excitement as they exclaim, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us, because of your name.”

Yet, Jesus corrects his disciples: “Don’t rejoice because the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”

Why does Jesus correct them? They simply went out and did as they were told. They declared that the kingdom of heaven was at hand, and showed it by subjecting demons to the name of Jesus. Shouldn’t Jesus allow them to rejoice in their success?

Eyes on eternal prize

It’s not that Jesus doesn’t want them to rejoice in their success; he does. However, he wants his disciples to keep their eyes on the bigger, eternal prize.

He knows that the joy of success will lead them to put their hope in that success, not in heaven. It’s good to place our hope in Christ’s healing power, but it shouldn’t trump our hope in experiencing the joys of heaven. Jesus models this order perfectly.

What does Jesus do in the face of his own success? He often tells his disciples to keep the success of his miracles a secret (Luke 4:41, 5:12 and 8:59). Jesus may rejoice over them, but he keeps it quiet. For he knows these miraculous healings, which are the sign of the power and authority of his heavenly kingdom, pose a threat to the scribes and the Pharisees (see Luke 6:11).

Oftentimes, he keeps his eyes fixed on heaven by going to pray (Luke 5:12, 6:12 and 9:1)

With the Rediscover: initiative and the defense of religious liberty in full swing, it’s important for all of us to keep the joy of heaven before us.

Yes, the New Evangelization is about bringing the healing power of God’s word to our neighbors through the Church.

Yes, this is an important work of the Church, and we should rejoice when people return to Church.

However, our hope doesn’t lie in success. Our hope lies in experiencing the joy of heaven one day. If we place our hope in the joys of heaven, then success will come.

So, set sail into the exciting waters of being Christ’s disciple and draw others into the exciting discovery of the heavenly mysteries!

Deacon Milless is in formation for the priesthood at the St. Paul Seminary for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. His home parish is Epiphany in Coon Rapids, and his teaching parish is St. Francis Xavier in Buffalo.


Readings

Sunday, July 7
14th Sunday in Ordinary Time

  • Isaiah 66:10-14c
  • Galatians 6:14-18
  • Luke 10:1-12, 17-20

Reflection

What is distracting you today from keeping your eyes “on the bigger, eternal prize”?

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Category: Sunday Scriptures