Jesus went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him, as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their resources.
Throughout the history of the Church, money has been a constant bone of contention. Many see the Church as overflowing with riches, while others would argue that this is not the case. The issue of generous giving to the life, mission and ministry of Christ’s Church also causes much diversity of opinion, even conflict. There are some Church communities that donate to charitable causes in a sacrificial way, while there are others that hoard and hide their resources for the proverbial ‘rainy day’. Throughout the history of the Church, money has been a constant bone of contention, and things are no different in the here and now!
In today’s reading we are offered just three verses from Luke’s gospel. In these three verses we are offered a road map for the modern Church, a road map which should be taken seriously and not glossed over as three verses that provide a moment of relief in the serious narrative.
Firstly, we read of Jesus and his disciples going through the cities and villages. This journeying is being done in God’s name for we also read that they are: proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. This is our calling as well. We are all called to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ. We are all called to bring that Good News into the lives of all whom we meet with joy and enthusiasm. We are called to live out every moment of every day as missionaries for Christ, and we are called to remain focused on that work.
Secondly, there is a recognition that those who do the work of God need to be sustained. Those who receive the Good News are also called, called to respond in generosity of spirit and in generosity of the wealth they have been fortunate enough to accrue.
Thirdly, the job of proclaiming the Good News and supporting those who take the mission of Christ’s Church seriously is a joint calling for us all. The diversity of those named in this short reading as providing for the needs of Jesus and his disciples demonstrates that call in the lives of us all. No matter what our social status, we are called to support and sustain Christ’s Church and Christ’s mission and ministry in this world.
Sadly, too many people are overcome with greed and self-interest when it comes to parting with their money. They make excuses for not supporting the Church, excuses which they then promulgate as the truth.
It cannot be denied that the Church holds many valuable assets. It cannot be denied that many of those assets do not sit easily alongside Jesus’ call to set worldly wealth to one side and to trust in God. But, Jesus’ call is for all of us. We all need to pray for the strength to trust in God’s bounty and God’s grace as we honour the greater commitment that has been laid upon our shoulders … the commitment to proclaim and bring the Good News into the lives of all.