Our Old Testament reading is set in the northern kingdom of Israel in the late 9th century B.C.; it continues the story of the prophet Elisha who called the people of Israel to turn away from false gods and be loyal to Yahweh the God of Israel. In today’s story a foreign general who actually led the army of Aram, Israel’s enemy, comes to Elisha with a surprising request for help.
Our New Testament reading concludes our series of readings from Paul’s letter to the Galatians. Paul wrote this letter in the late 40s or early 50s A.D., a time when there was controversy between Jewish and Gentile Christians about whether Gentiles needed to become Jews and obey the entire Jewish Law before they could become followers of Jesus. Paul has argued that Christ has set us free from the Law, but in this last section of the letter he reminds us that this doesn’t mean we can just do as we like. Jesus is making us into a new creation, and there’s a new way of life involved, a way that includes working for the good of all and boasting about nothing except the Cross of Jesus Christ.
Today’s gospel reading is taken from what is sometimes called the ‘Travel Section’ of Luke’s gospel: Jesus and his disciples are on their way to Jerusalem (see 9:51), where Jesus will eventually be arrested and crucified. He is teaching his disciples about what it means to follow him, but he also wants to get his message out to as many people as possible, so he sends out seventy of his followers two by two to announce the coming of the Kingdom of God and heal the sick. Today’s passage contains Jesus’ instructions to these new ambassadors of the Kingdom of God.