Jijo Kandamkulathy, CMF
Claretian Publications, Macau
Lk 10:1-12, 17-20
They were sent two by two as buddy evangelizers. This evangelization strategy that Jesus proposes for the seventy-two, the larger circle of disciples, can be applied in our time in the case of lay people. Married couple could be the best buddy evangelizers of our times. It is good to take a few moments to look at our partners who are ready to make the journey with us in life. We are indebted to our buddies in life.
They were seventy-two. That unfamiliar number is like a stone in the shoe. This number must be Luke’s daring theologizing, since in the other Gospels, the number is only the all-too-familiar scriptural number of seventy. Luke has taken a very special stance on the controversy of the seventy or seventy-two in this text. The text of the seventy-two comes from the Book of Numbers (Ch. 11) where Moses was asked to gather 70 elders to take care of the needs of the people since he could not handle the complaints of a large number of people. When the seventy were gathered, Moses put some of his spirit on them, and the seventy started prophesying. Then Eldad and Medad, two who were originally invited to join, did not join the gathering. Two others might have taken their place. But these two started prophesying outside the tent. Joshua was annoyed at this and complained to Moses to stop them. Moses simply questioned Joshua, “Are you jealous?” Luke, being the author of the “gospel of openness,” might have arrived at the seventy-two, adding those prophesying outside the tent. Only Luke could handle such insights.
Let us look into the story of the two by two. This has something to do with the witness of the two in the Book of Deuteronomy. Witness of two is considered trustworthy and reliable. The Book of Daniel (Ch. 13) has a beautiful story of Daniel catching the two elders who falsely accused Susanna of adultery. Daniel questioned the men separately to fact check the accusation and found them guilty of false accusation. Only the united witness of two would be valid. The insistence of Jesus on the two-by-two rule should be understood from the context of this scriptural and cultural background.
However, there are more significant perspectives to be identified from here. One of the earliest human predicaments the Bible deals with is human loneliness. Adam was found alone and God gave him a companion. Everyone battles with loneliness one time or another in one’s life. If it is not identified in time, it will not take much time for human nature to wither and perish.
One of the basic needs of human beings is social relationship—friendship. Jesus was saddened by the death of Lazarus, the only one mentioned in the Gospel as a friend of Jesus. Jesus had disciples and followers, many of them; but only one friend, Lazarus, and he cried at his loss. Jesus had expected this companionship from his disciples in a crucial moment of his life. When he went to Gethsemane, he had taken his closest disciples to be with him. However, while he was sweating blood, they were sleeping. They failed to be companions to him, not only here, but for the rest of the trial as well.
The buddy system of the military is familiar to most of us. They watch each other’s backs. One of those stories from an early scout boy’s manual narrates a buddy story. One soldier lay wounded in the raging battlefield. There was little hope of extracting him from the situation alive. His buddy asked for permission to remove him from there. The major discouraged him as it was a highly risky operation. It was certain that he would be wounded, if not killed. With all the pleading, the major permitted him, and he reached his buddy. Resting his head in his buddy’s lap, the wounded soldier looked at his friend with great love and said, “I knew, you would come,” and he breathed his last. We need buddies even as we preach, to get us help when we are wounded. An individual ministry might look very quick and fruitful but will not be God’s mission. In that interesting book Big Panda and the Tiny Dragon, we read the conversation between the duo. The panda asks the dragon, “What is more important: the journey or the destination?” The dragon replies, “The company.” Great journeys are undertaken for the sake of the company. Greater journeys are undertaken to achieve a purpose in tandem with company.
(sasint at pixabay.com)