“The harvest is abundant but the labourers are few.” The need that the world faced centuries ago is the same need that we are facing today. In the gospel of Luke, Jesus saw this need that is not physical but spiritual. There was – and still is – spiritual hunger, instability within oneself, or war between the mind and the heart. Hence, Jesus responded by sending out his followers to a mission of peace in preparation for the fulfillment of God’s grand plan.
Subsequent to the gospel on discipleship where Jesus reminded us to make a ‘radical choice’ if we want to follow him, this time he gives us a set of guidelines on how to fulfill the mission as his disciples. Like the “appointed 72 others whom he sent ahead of him in pairs,” we are called to jointly reach out to others. Jesus knows that the mission that we are called to do is critical as the world would rather reject than embrace his radical message as truth. That is why in a special chronology, he teaches us how to render this call to action.
1) Pray. Similar to any mission trips that are not necessarily religious (such as scientific explorations), members of the mission team do not only need to be physically healthy, but they also have to be psychologically, emotionally and mentally stable to effectively carry out the mission as planned. Thus, NASA, for example, has a specific astronaut selection process where key characteristics of the mission team are enumerated in detail to ensure that the members they are sending out are qualified based on the institution’s accepted standards. In this case, carrying out a mission of peace requires spiritual stability, appropriate disposition, outlook and strength that can only be attained through the grace of God. It is important that the missioner is attuned to the Holy Spirit so that the latter can work in and through the missioner freely.
Moreover, going to a mission of peace requires the cooperation of others to establish – and later on preserve – the state of ‘soundness’ in the community. However, as Jesus mentioned in the early part of the gospel, “the labourers are few.” Therefore, the missioners of peace seek God’s grace to provide labourers who have the characteristics of a lamb – gentle, obedient and dependent on the shepherd’s voice. These labourers have to be able to withstand the rejecting, violent and savage instincts of the world (likened to the behavior of a wolf). Only through the grace of God can man carry this out.
2) Travel light. Because of the uniqueness of this mission, Jesus tells his followers to bring nothing – “no money bag, no sack, no sandals.” The mission of peace only requires us to leave the material things behind, as they can be potential distractions. Do not focus on the pleasures of the world; instead keep hold of what is eternally rewarding.
3) Bring Christ’s peace. Jesus reminds us that his peace is meant to be shared to others, not to be kept all to oneself. As part of Christ’s body, we are invited to bring him to others by being Christ-like. We are invited to love not only those who are dear to us, but also most especially those who are difficult to love. Being a follower of Christ does not end in only having a personal relationship with God, rather, it should also extend to building a godly relationship with others. Jesus did not build the Church only for the religious and pious to maintain her, but for us to continue his work. You and I are the Church. Our work is to draw our neighbors closer to God. We can only fulfill this in the peace of Jesus.
However, Jesus instructs us not to impose peace on others. “If a peaceful person lives there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you.” Peace is chosen. In the same way that it is our choice if we want to accept Christ’s peace given to us. Like love, Jesus does not force us to love him back but he still loves us anyway. Do not impose peace on others but be a bearer of peace anyway.
4) Find security in God’s grace. As missioners of peace, Jesus assures us of security and protection in carrying out his message. He does not want us to worry about our physical needs because he will provide them. We do not need weapons for protection because the Word of God alone is our protection. Through the Holy Spirit, we will be given the gifts to perform miracles and bring blessings to whom that will receive the message. “The kingdom of God is at hand for you,” Jesus assures.
5) Rejoice for being missioners of peace. “Do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” The power to bring peace to others is the work of Holy Spirit, not ours. We are reminded that while we chose to be missioners of peace, we rejoice not because we have the power to “tread upon serpents and scorpions”, but because we belong to the kingdom of God. This should be more than enough reason to rejoice.
Peace is one of the most wonderful gifts of God to us. When we pray for peace in the heart and mind, we know that what we need is for the Holy Spirit to dwell in us. Our prayer is granted only if we choose to receive the Lord’s peace. And when we live in peace, what better way to do next but to share it with the world that badly needs it. May we all choose to be missioners of peace trusting the Lord for mercy, justice and protection in sharing his Word to others.
Father God, I glorify you for your power to bring quietness in my heart amidst the noise of the world. You are my Redeemer and Comfort; you are my Refuge and Peace. I want to share this peace to others; I want to bring others closer to you. I ask you, Father, to please use me as a bearer of your message. Make me an instrument of your peace and love. Amen.