Whatever house you enter, first bless them, saying, ‘Peace to this house!‘ If a friend of peace lives there, the peace shall rest upon that person. But if not, the blessing will return to you. Stay in that house, eating and drinking at their table, for the worker deserves to be paid. Do not move from house to house.
When they welcome you to any town, eat what they offer you. Heal the sick who are there, and say to them: ‘The kingdom of God has drawn near to you.‘
But in any town where you are not welcome, go to the marketplace and proclaim: ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off and leave with you. But know for a certainty that the kingdom of God has drawn near to you.‘ I tell you, that on the Day of Judgment it will be better for Sodom than for this town.
The first reading brings my imagination to the Liturgy of the Word that we celebrate during the Mass. The preaching of Ezra reminds all the baptized of the fundamental duty to proclaim the Word. The people were so respectful, attentive, eager and receptive of the preaching. They found deep joy understanding the Law. ”The people went their way to eat, drink and share, and they had a great feast, because they had understood the word that had been proclaimed to them.” This is the ”Joy of the Gospel” that Pope Francis speaks in his ”Gaudium Evangelii.”
The urgency of proclaiming the gospel caused the Lord to appoint ”seventy-two other disciples, and sent them two by two” with specific instructions. The instructions were drastic and difficult. But they were given so that they will concentrate on the preaching of the Kingdom of God and not linger on the less important matters.
St. James speaks of the wise man as ”the hearer and the doer of the word of God” (1:23). To hear the word of God is a responsibility. It is both a privilege and a task. It could be one‘s salvation or condemnation. And worst, ”On the day of judgment, it will be better for Sodom” than for those who refused it.