House Calls
14th Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)

Antonio P. Pueyo
Reproduced with Permission

There was time when doctors made house calls. Younger people may not have recollections of this practice. Now doctors have clinics and patients go there or to a hospital in case of emergencies. By the nature of their jobs some people still do house calls. Plumbers, electricians, and phone repairmen visit our homes. So do insurance agents and book peddlers. As a child, I read biblical stories from books sold to us by non-Catholics. They were the only ones going house to house to sell bible stories with colorful pictures.

Action starter: Talk about Jesus and His message with a friend.

Catholic priests still do sick calls. I dread the day when priests will no longer do house calls and instead wait in their rectories or convents for the sick people to come. Nowadays, there are priests assigned regularly as chaplains of hospitals. That’s where they do sick calls. As a parish priest, one of my memorable sick calls was in a barrio far from the parish center. I arrived in my old jeep and inquired about the sick person. The “sick person” was doing some gardening and appeared more healthy than I was in my exhausted state. Still we do house calls.

In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus was telling his seventy-two disciples to do house calls, “On entering any house, first say, “Peace to this house” (Lk.10: 5). They had to go two by two, supporting each other in their mission. They had to give full attention to their task of preaching about the Kingdom. They should not even be worried about their resources (wallet, walking stick, sandals) but rely on the kindness of people and trust in God’s providence. And they should not be distracted from their mission by idle conversations (greet no one along the way). They had to have their priorities right.

This preoccupation to preach can only happen if the preacher is convinced of the value of his message. If what I am about to say is very important and would make a difference in the lives of people, I should not be keeping it. I am duty-bound to share it. Suppose a scientist discovers the medicine that can cure an illness that is killing millions of people, then he has to tell the world about it. Do we consider the message about the Kingdom so important that we like to share it with others and that we do not want to dilly-dally about it?

On second thought, we might have been too timid in preaching the Good News about Jesus and His kingdom. We may have felt more comfortable describing the beneficial effects of the medicine we are propagating but forgot to mention the name. We have spoken on love, peace, reconciliation, community, and life but sometimes failed to mention God, Jesus, the Spirit, and the Church.

When Jesus sent the disciples two by two, He knew that they had to overcome so many weaknesses such as their natural timidity, sense of inadequacy, lack of self-confidence, and fears. That was the reason why they were sent two by two. They needed each other’s support. They had to build up each other’s confidence. They had to learn to trust each other.

This Sunday’s story has a message for us modern disciples. Do we perceive Jesus and His message as very important and therefore ought to be shared? Do we have a community to support us in living according to the Gospel?