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The missionary dimension of Christian discipleship is to the fore in the Gospel this Sunday. Jesus sends out the seventy-two messengers ahead of him to bring his Good News to the people. Jesus instructs them carefully advising them to be on their guard. He urges them to remain focused on the work they have to do and not to become distracted by the things of this world.

While Jesus tells his messengers that they will find a welcome in many places, he also cautions them that they will experience rejection. Not everyone will be open to the message they preach and some ears and hearts will be closed to the words that they speak.

As disciples of Jesus today we continue to be heralds of the Good News. In the current climate it is a challenging task to proclaim the Christian message in the society in which we live. Many people today have rejected the core message of salvation in Jesus. Many people no longer have a desire for God in their daily lives. Many people have lost their moral compass and have no objective understanding of right and wrong.

How then do we preach the Gospel to people today? The words of St. Peter written to a persecuted Church centuries ago come to mind: “Simply reverence the Lord Christ in your hearts, and always have your answer ready for people who ask you the reason for the hope that you all have. But give it with courtesy and respect and with a clear conscience.” Apt words indeed for our time.

Fr. Kieran Coghlan

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