Luke has Jesus send "the seventy" out to evangelize and spread the news of God's kingdom come near in today's selection. Jesus warns these travelers that not all will accept them or kindly welcome them. He gives them pretty explicit instructions about how to react to rejection: wiping them, and their very existence, from their consciences, leaving no tangible reminder of them on their person, down to the very dust of the town. When we pair this with the reading from Ecclesiasticus, which focuses on the fickleness of human beings and the rarity of true friends, we are given a lot to ka-noodle.
If we think about how long ago Ecclesiasticus was assembled, and look at the wisdom and truth found in these 12 verses, I can't help but wonder at how constant our human condition can be. I believe in redemption and that people can change. I believe in doing what I can to be a part of that change. Yet these words from Ecclesiasticus give me pause.... and at the same time delight. For even though they provide a rather caustic (and accurate) assessment of people's actions and reactions, they also provide this hope:
Faithful friends are a sturdy shelter:
whoever finds one has found a treasure.
Faithful friends are beyond price,
no amount can balance their worth.
Faithful friends are life-saving medicine;
Uncommon and yet not impossible to find, true friends are just this. Just as Jesus warns his early evangelists about rejection, so too today we are reminded that when we are gifted those rare finds of faithful friends, cherishing them, recognizing those moments and relishing them, help make our work of building this kingdom Jesus calls us to, that richer an experience.
Copyright 2010, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.