Commentary on the Gospel of
In the first reading everyone comes out to hear the word of God – everyone – men and women and the children who are old enough to understand. In so many biblical passages they only talk about the men, but here everyone is included and it’s acknowledged that this information is important for everyone, not just the men, even the children. Everyone who is capable of understanding comes to hear this important information, the word of God. And they listen carefully, thoughtfully, all day. And they do understand it. They are so moved by this information that they weep. Ezra tells them not to be sad, that the word of God is joy to them, but I think they already know this. I think they are weeping for the intense emotion, not for sadness but for joy. They are told to now celebrate this word of God, to eat and drink and celebrate together. The law of God is perfect and refreshes them.
In the Gospel Jesus is sending out disciples ahead of him to prepare the people, in essence, for the word of God. He sends them out to scope out the place, see who will be receptive to the word, and who will reject it. And unlike the first reading, the whole of the people are not listening attentively and weeping with joy at the information. This is dangerous work and takes serious devotion. Those who undertake this journey could be walking into their deaths. Jesus says, “behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves.” This is not an easy task Jesus is asking, but he is asking his friends to lay down their lives for him. This takes the utmost devotion. It would be easier to walk away. It would be easier to deny Christ. What devotion it takes for these friends to risk life and limb. Not many people have the devotion it takes. "The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few.” There is much work to be done, and enough work for many people, but few will make that commitment, few have that devotion.
The people in the first reading found joy in the word of God, and the ones in the Gospel who would reject the word will have it worse than the city of Sodom, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.