The Seventy-two returned with joy… ‘Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you; but rejoice that your names are written in heaven’.” (Luke 10: 17–20)
The Disciple comes back to the One who sent him. He was sent like a lamb among wolves: poor, weak, in need of acceptance but exposed to rejection. It is the labour of sowing. Now, it is the harvest feast: the valleys are dressed in wheat, “everything sings and cries for joy” (Psalm 65: 14).
The colour of our coming back from the field is joy, the Lord’s final gift to His co-workers. Jesus Himself dances in spirit and proclaims blessed those who see His exultation. The coming back of the Seventy-two is the prelude of the final result, when the Gospel will be announced to every creature (Mark 13: 10) and the whole creation will be rescued from evil (Romans 8: 19–23).
We harvest what we have sown: coming back, we gather the mission fruits. The first fruit is the victory over Satan: the announcement of the Father’s love overcomes Satan’s lie that is at the origin of all our evils. Our present history is freed from Satan’s influence. Michael’s victory against the dragon (Revelation 12: 7–12) happens in the Gospel witness: the one who keeps us in the fear of death is defeated (Hebrews 2: 14ff).
The second fruit is bringing back humanity to its dignity: human beings are again the masters of creation, in a life free from fear and egoism. There is also a third, even greater, fruit. The mission is not only victory over evil and returns to the lost garden, it is the missionary being enrolled in the book of God’s children. Whoever goes towards the brethren becomes the Father’s true son.
The Mission’s gift in its fullness is his: he becomes like the Son who has the very same Father’s love towards the brethren. This is why Mission belongs to everybody: every child’s vocation is his mission towards the brethren that makes him/her equal to the Father. “The Seventy-two returned with joy”:
The coming back of the Seventy-two symbolically anticipates the return from the mission to all peoples. The joy which is the fruit of requited love is God’s authentic signature because He is perfectly loving and loved. where there is no joy, there is no God. It is a joy that “nobody can snatch away”: it wells up from a love that is stronger than death.
“The spirits are subject to you”: Formerly, we were the slaves of evil; now, we rule over it. Satan is defeated by love’s witness: the beauty of those who are poor, helpful and humble unveils the ugliness of egoism, the poisonous fruit of the fear of death. The Gospel witness is the true exorcism that unseats Satan from his power over human beings. But, beware! If we are his slaves, he leaves us alone; if we are the ones to keep him as a slave, he will rebel.
“I saw Satan falling from heaven”: Satan was in heaven: he was having God’s place, showing Him as a jealous boss, the antagonist of human beings, of their freedom and joy. Evangelization, by means of the account of Jesus’ story, frees both God and human beings who are God’s image and likeness, from Satan’s presence. Now that Satan is submitted to us, he starts tempting us: he fights against us in order to submit us to himself.
“I have given you the power to tread upon serpents and scorpions”: The ancient serpent has no longer any power over us with its poison of lies that took us away from God. Let us tread on the scorpion that has its poison in the tail: it is the image of death that comes in the end and infects our whole life with fear. We know that the Father is our beginning and our end: we come from Him and we go back to Him. We can live a happy life, answering love with love. “But rejoice that your names are written in heaven”: The name is the person, heaven is God: the reason why we rejoice is that we are in God, like the Son in the Father. In fact, by witnessing God’s love for the brethren, we have become like Jesus. it is in the mission to the brethren that we fully fulfill our vocation and our identity as children of God. (Fr. Silvano Fausti)
Reflect and Share
• Am I aware of my dignity of being God’s child, sharing the very life of God who is love?
• What kind of image of God and man do I have?
• The values that I live by, do they belong to the Gospel or to the world?