I Want to Be in That Number
In today's gospel, Jesus sends out seventy disciples to do some evangelizing. But who are they? There is lore that says some of the first leaders of the church were in this original cadre of disciples, sent out "like lambs into the midst of wolves" (Luke 10:3). Barnabas, Mark, Rufus, and Justus are a few who might be familiar to us. But this is all legend, and one has to wonder why these seventy aren't explicity named by the gospel writer, especially because it was the first mass evanglism tour that Jesus encouraged.
But perhaps the anonymity is on purpose. Perhaps they aren't specifically named becuse their names can be ever-rotating---an ever-moving list of saints that, generation after generation, are sent out with the strong name of Christ to confront the evils of the world.
Perhaps you are one of the seventy, sent out by Jesus to confront the demons of this world; demons like racism and sexism, demons that destroy the temples of our bodies and cloud our minds with thoughts of hate and extremism.
It's important to consider that the seventy came back rejoicing because even the demons submitted to the name of Jesus (Luke 10:17). We may not consider that the demons of our world today can be subdued when they seem so gargantuan. Yet is has happened before, by the power of God. Indeed, it happens again and again and again as followers of Jesus go out in the world with God's name upon their brows, denouncing the ills of the world and working for justice and peace as our baptismal calling compels us to do.
That old spiritual "Oh, when the saints go marching in" is the most appropriate for this first Sunday in July. It speaks of longing to be among the saints entering the beloved kingdom of God, but it may also apply to those seventy saints sent out in today's gospel.
We too are in that number, wielding the powerful name of Christ. Rejoice!