Jesus is not a lone missionary; he does not want to fulfill his mission alone but involves his disciples. In addition to the twelve apostles he calls another seventy-two and sends them to the villages, two by two, to proclaim that the Kingdom of God is close at hand. This is very beautiful! Jesus does not want to act alone; he came to bring the love of God into the world, and he wants to spread it in the style of communion, in the style of brotherhood. That is why he immediately forms a community of disciples, which is a missionary community. He trains them straight away for the mission, to go forth.
The Gospel of Luke tells us that those seventy-two came back from their mission full of joy because they had experienced the power of Christ’s name over evil. Jesus says it: to these disciples he gives the power to defeat the evil one. But he adds, “Do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you; but rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20). We should not boast as if we were the protagonists: there is only one protagonist, the Lord! The Lord’s grace is the protagonist. He is the one hero. And our joy is just this: to be his disciples, his friends.
—Excerpted from The Joy of Discipleship by Pope Francis
Discuss The Joy of Discipleship with a small group with the help of a free discussion guide, offered as part of Summer Reading for the Soul from Loyola Press. Choose a spiritual summer read for only $9 before 6/30/17. See full details here.