By Kaelanne Jordan
Archbishop Jason Gordon has observed that for a long time, the faithful has perceived the parish as a place “where church happens”.
He, however, is convinced that while the parish is an especially important institution of the Church, the “real” institution where the mission has to be proclaimed “in a much more clear and dynamic way” is in the household.
“Because that’s the first place Jesus sends them [the 72] to. And when God created us, He created Adam and Eve; He created a family, a household, and that’s where the mission started …” Archbishop Gordon said during his homily at Archbishop’s Chapel, Monday, July 4.
He was referring to the gospel Luke 10:1–12, 17–20, which gives insight into “how Jesus organised His ministry” with the appointment of the 72 to a specific mission of bringing peace, healing and “right relationship in the household”.
“ Isn’t that what the family needs most?” he questioned.
Healing, Archbishop Gordon said, not only involves reconciliation of relationships that have been “fractured”, but on a spiritual level.
When the mission is being carried out and taken to the household, something very powerful starts emerging – a renewal of family life, a renewal of the Church and the renewal of the nation.
The call of the 72 is also a call for every baptised Christian, “because you are baptised prophet, priest, and king. And in your household, you too are to proclaim the Good News, you too are to enter into the mind of Christ, you too are called into your household to bring healing and to proclaim peace.”
Peace, the Archbishop underscored is not just a greeting like ‘Hello’; peace is Shalom that can only come from the gift of God. “And that’s why Jesus says ‘…My peace I give you’: not as the world gives you….’
He continued, “… if they are a person of peace, reconciliation, restoration, right relationship will flow in that household. If not, it will come back to you.”
Archbishop Gordon asserted that wherever the Good News is proclaimed to the family, wherever the minister speaks and acts in the name of Jesus, and wherever healing takes place in the household, evil cannot stand it. Nor can evil keep the posturing that evil usually has.
He shared that St Bede saw the gospel text as the beginning of Catholic priesthood. He agreed, adding that those who believe the Catholic priesthood began somehow in a “spurious” way, “this is the beginning of the priesthood”.
He focused on the instruction to the 72, that “the harvest is rich and the labourers are few so ask the Lord of the harvest to send labourers to His harvest….”
Drawing parallels to the priest shortage in the Archdiocese, Archbishop Gordon emphasised that priests will only come about through prayer. He disclosed 12 of 61 parishes are without priests.
“And every time a parish does not have a priest, the parish feels like they somehow are the worst thing in the world…. We’ve had parishes in the south that have not had priests, one parish I think it’s recorded had a priest for one and a half years in a 20-year run,” the Archbishop shared.
He explained the passage, “I’m sending you out like lambs among wolves” signifies that priests find themselves in hostile territory. “And the hostile territory is one that if you don’t understand who is sending you or that you are sent, you are going to get lick up very quickly and easily.”
“Carry no purse, no haversack, no sandals. Salute no one on the road,” in other words, Archbishop Gordon explained, the vocation of the priest is to be very vulnerable. Vulnerability, he said, is a great challenge today.
He said he was intrigued with the gospel passage when the 72 returned rejoicing saying, “Lord, even the devil submitted to us when we use your name.” This, he said, demonstrated that the priesthood is given “incredible power”.
“It is mind-boggling the power entrusted to mere human beings. That’s why they have to be so vulnerable. That’s why they have to be so reliant upon God because that power can go to your head very easily. And especially when you start to see Satan and devils submitting,” the Archbishop said.