[Jesus] sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit. (Lk 10:1-12, 17-20)
My brothers and sisters, can you imagine being one of the 72 sent by Jesus? Picture what it would mean to go ahead of Jesus and bear witness to the Good News that He would be coming to preach, heal and deliver the people in the towns and villages on the way to Jerusalem!
Day after day, these followers listened to teachings. They saw the miracles that He performed and believed that He was indeed the Son of God, the Messiah.
Now, the disciples were being sent out quickly - not to dawdle, meet, greet or chit chat along the way. As Jesus sent them, He instructed them to pray, "… ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest." These followers were given directions as to how they were to conduct themselves when they arrived in the various places: "whatever city you enter and they welcome you, eat what is placed before you" (Lk 10:7).
When the disciples returned, Jesus listened to their effervescent accounts of their ministry experiences. He urged them to be humble and "not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you but rejoice because your names are written in heaven" (Lk. 10:20).
Today, we too, are being sent by Jesus. Like the 72, we are to proclaim the Good News that "The Kingdom of God is at hand…" (Lk 10:8) as disciples, who are part of His Church.
Jesus tells us as He told the followers that there would be joy, yet there would also be challenges, rejection, and indifference. Even so, we ought not to be discouraged when we encounter these things. As the Epistle of James teaches, "Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance" (Ja. 1:2-3). So we must "shake the dust off our feet and continue on" (Lk 10:11).
The National Black Catholic Congress XII will be held from July 20, 2023 -July 24, 2023, in Oxon Hill, MD. Since reconvening in 1987, delegates from dioceses throughout the United States have gathered every five years to pray and attend enculturated liturgies, seminars, and sessions that focus on issues of concern within the Black Catholic community. At each gathering, as a community, we prioritized goals to help guide and inform ministry to Black Catholics.
Attending Congress next year will be an opportunity for us as Black Catholics to pray, worship, attend liturgies and foster a deeper understanding of our faith, and who we are as Catholics. It will also be a time to prepare our hearts, minds, and souls to be missionary disciples to go forth rejoicing as we share what we have seen and heard at Congress. The message from Jesus, the Lord of the Harvest, to our communities is that we pray for "laborers for his harvest."
At Congress, I look forward to our Black Catholic Shepherds encouraging us to actively live out the Gospel. I hope to attend faith formation sessions focusing on accompanying youth and young adults. I also want to experience presentations delving into Black Lives Matter led by priests, deacons, women in religious life, catechists, and theologians. We need teachings to build compassionate communities that support women and families facing poverty, and affirm the dignity of everyone at every stage, in every circumstance of life, from a Black Catholic perspective. I am also looking forward to praising and worshiping the Lord together with thousands of you. Until we are able to greet each other at Congress next year, "Let the peace of Christ control your hearts; let the word of Christ dwell in you richly" (Col 3:15a, 16a).
The theme for the 2023 NBCC Congress XIII is...
"Write the Vision: A Prophetic Call to Thrive."
This is based on the book of Habakkuk 2:2-4.
For more information about Congress XIII, click here Congress XIII 2023