The Joy of Being Liberated in Jesus’ Name
In the 2nd century before Christ, a prophet borrowing the name of Baruch makes Jerusalem speak a message of hope and joy to her scattered children in the Diaspora. God will liberate them from their infidelities.
In the gospel, the disciples, and Jesus with them, rejoice that people have been liberated from the power of evil in the name of Jesus.
1 Reading: Baruch 4:5-12, 27-29
Fear not, my people! Remember, Israel, You were sold to the nations not for your destruction; It was because you angered God that you were handed over to your foes. For you provoked your Maker with sacrifices to demons, to no-gods; You forsook the Eternal God who nourished you, and you grieved Jerusalem who fostered you. She indeed saw coming upon you the anger of God; and she said: “Hear, you neighbours of Zion! God has brought great mourning upon me, For I have seen the captivity that the Eternal God has brought upon my sons and daughters. With joy I fostered them; but with mourning and lament I let them go. Let no one gloat over me, a widow, bereft of many: For the sins of my children I am left desolate, because they turned from the law of God. Fear not, my children; call out to God! He who brought this upon you will remember you. As your hearts have been disposed to stray from God, turn now ten times the more to seek him; For he who has brought disaster upon you will, in saving you, bring you back enduring joy.”
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 69:33-35, 36-37
R. (34) The Lord listens to the poor.
“See, you lowly ones, and be glad;
you who seek God, may your hearts revive!
For the LORD hears the poor,
and his own who are in bonds he spurns not.
Let the heavens and the earth praise him,
the seas and whatever moves in them!” R.
For God will save Zion
and rebuild the cities of Judah.
They shall dwell in the land and own it,
and the descendants of his servants shall inherit it,
and those who love his name shall inhabit it. R.
Alleluia: cf. Matthew 11:25
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth;
you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the Kingdom.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel: Luke 10:17-24
The seventy-two disciples returned rejoicing and said to Jesus, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name.” Jesus said, “I have observed Satan fall like lightning from the sky. Behold, I have given you the power ‘to tread upon serpents’ and scorpions and upon the full force of the enemy and nothing will harm you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” At that very moment he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.” Turning to the disciples in private he said, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I say to you, many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”
Israel’s punishment was medicinal or remedial, not terminal. That is the clear message of today’s reading from Baruch. When they sacrificed “to no gods” and abandoned the God who had delivered them, Israelites angered and provoked the Lord. But they need not fear. If they will but turn to the Lord in a true spirit of repentance, all will be forgiven and their homeland will be restored.
The disciples in today’s Gospel are overwhelmed by the fact that they can now cast out devils. But Christ reminds them that there are greater things than that; their greatest joy is that their names are inscribed in heaven. Christ then gives thanks for the little people. It is not the learned and wise who are open to the kingdom, but the childlike, those who are humble before the Lord. It is they who are privy to the mysteries of God, shared with the Son by the Father and by the Son with those whom he chooses.
Like the disciples, we too should rejoice, because the truths of God have been shared with us. There were many sterling figures who lived before Christ and yearned for “the day of the Lord.” It was a privilege not given to them. We can be very thoughtless about the great truths that have been shared with us. As Baruch reminds the Israelites, forgiveness can be theirs for the asking. We too are reminded that gratitude to God for his revelation to us is wholly in order.
The disciples sent out by Jesus returned full of joy because they had helped people to become freer persons, liberated from evils. May we ourselves become freer too and, in turn, pastoral agents of freedom, with the blessing of almighty God, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!