Sixth Sunday After Pentecost

& archive, Year C.

Lord Jesus Christ,
You call us to come
To be with you,
To hear your voice
To listen deeply to your word.
By your Spirit help me
To see you,
To hear your voice,
To follow you in all of life,
In the way of God’s gracious reality.
Amen

Sixth Sunday after Pentecost

Following a time of ministry, the seventy disciples who had been sent out by Jesus, now return to be with him and with each other. We are invited to join them, for Jesus also calls us to move with this rhythm for life and ministry: to come and be with Jesus, to receive guidance for personal and spiritual formation and service, and to be sent out. This time of being with Jesus is for rest and reflection. Here the disciples pause for prayerful consideration on their acts of ministry as well as what was going on within themselves as they engaged in the work Jesus had given them to do. . . .
When the work of ministry is growing and pastoral workers are feeling over-worked, a common response in our day is to do a ministry review, and then hire more workers. Luke notes that Jesus does choose other workers alongside the first group of twelve; he appoints this team of seventy and sends them out in pairs. However, if our response to the needs of ministry is only to hire more staff, or to call other gifted persons alongside to help, we are overlooking the deeper care needed for our soul, and the act of giving hospitable rest to our body. In a letter to Eugenius who had once been a monk at Clairvaux, but had now become Pope, Bernard of Clairvaux, his former abbot, reminds him to set aside time for himself and his spiritual life amidst the many demands of his ministry.

If you wish to belong altogether to other people, like him who was made all things to all men, I praise your humanity, but only on condition that it be complete. But how can it be complete if you yourself are left out? You, too, are a man. So then, in order that your humanity may be entire and complete, let your bosom, which receives all, find room for yourself also. . . In short if a man is bad to himself, to whom is he good? . . . set aside some portion of your heart and of your time for consideration . . . What is so essential to the worship of God as the practice to which He exhorts in the Psalm, “Be still and know that I am God.” This certainly is the chief object of consideration. [1]
A time of retreat offers restoration for the whole person, mind, body and soul. Along with a ministry report, the followers of Jesus reflect on their own personal experience while engaged in the work Jesus has empowered and sent them to do. Luke allows us to listen in as they meet:

Disciples: Lord, in your name even the demons
submit to us! (Feeling joyful as they recall
this experience, and reflect on what was
happening.)

Jesus: I watched Satan fall from heaven like
a flash of lightning.
(Giving the disciples some insight into
what is happening within the realm of
heavenly and spiritual reality as they
do this work of ministry here on earth:
Satan has lost his power, hence the
demons submit to the authority of Jesus.)
See, I have given you authority to tread on
snakes and scorpions, and over all the
power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt
you. (Reminding them that this authority
over demons is given to them, also
reassuring them of their protection.)
Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that
the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that
your names are written in heaven.
(Following the giving of insight, and
offering reassurance, now Jesus directs
their attention to discerning the source
of their joy.)

Besides giving spiritual direction when these gospel companions are afraid, Jesus also invites their attention and offers guidance for their issues of power. In this instance the disciples are reveling in the amount of power and authority they have received: even the demons submit to them! Power can be seductive. Spiritual power can also entice us. Both how we understand the meaning of authority, and what we learn from how persons around us use power is gathered up in the mix of how we view having power and how we feel about its use. This will be a subject that Jesus returns to again as he companions his followers, and ourselves.

For now he directs their attention to the source of their joy: not in having power over demons, but in their identity as children of God who belong to the family of God, recorded in the birth records of heaven. Who we are is a gift of God, nothing we have earned or made for ourselves. Our deepest identity is given and known by God. Jesus invites us to discover that it is here that we find our deepest joy. Identity, power and authority rest in God. When we relinquish our need to prove who we are, to have power and domination, then we are able to discern the deceptive lure of our desire for domination. This act of dominating grows out of our fear of being less than able–in our own eyes, but especially in the eyes of others; it feeds our pride and inflates our false self. Having domination over evil spirits can also result in an unhealthy preoccupation with evil, the demonic, and the realm of Satan. Enticement is one of Satan’s strong weapons; think of how the serpent used it in the Garden. However, we can be lulled into a kind of stupor by evil and by our own desire, both of which are designed to stop us recognizing the enticement for what it is: something which lures us away from God and the guidance God gives.

Reflection
Consciousness Examen
Some time apart for prayerful reflection of our day or our week offers us a way of receiving help and guidance, affirmation of where we are responding in faith, hope, and love, and discernment of where we notice areas for growth and change. The consciousness examen gives some simple guidance for this act of consideration.
Preparation
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you see your day or week as God does.

Meditation

Look back over the past twenty-four hours, or week. Notice what events come to mind. What stands out for you in some way?

What attitudes within yourself do you become aware of?
~~~ fear, anxiousness, hostility, anger, sadness, resentment, jealousy
~~~ faith (when you have turned towards God, opened your attention to God in some way)
~~~ hope (when you have encountered difficulty or hardship and looked beyond the circumstances to the God)
~~~ love (when you have chosen to respond to others in love, patience, kindness, gentleness, longsuffering)
~~~ joy (Where have you experienced joy? What the source of your joy?)

Reflect on where you have encountered God within this time period.

As you need forgiveness, bring your need to God. Receive the affirmation that God gives you in owning you as God’s child, receiving and loving you within God’s family. This is your deepest identity.

Listening to Jesus as he prays

During this time of rest and reflection, Jesus makes prayer a part of the experience. As he prays they–and we–are offered a window into the source of Jesus’ joy, and then some spiritual direction for our own discerning.

Sixth Sunday after Pentecost

6/24 Monday: Luke 10:1-11
6/25 Tuesday: Luke 10:16-24
6/26 Wednesday: Psalm 66:1-9 / Isaiah 66:10-14
6/27 Thursday: 2 Kings 5:1-14
6/28 Friday: Galatians 6:1-16
6/29 Saturday: Luke 10:1-11
6/30 Sunday: Luke 10:16-24