Two by two – Seventy-two
Jesus sends “seventy-two” ahead of Him, in pairs, to preach the Word and to prepare for His visit. Saint Luke symbolically presents this whole episode to drive home a certain truth about the mission of the church: primarily, He is convinced that the Good News is for everybody – for every caste, trade, and religion. The number 72 signifies this fact. In Genesis 10, the total number of nations in the world was fixed at 72. By sending 72 people through different directions, Jesus showed that His Good News is for all.
Secondly, the Gospel must be preached in communion with the brothers and sisters in faith. The Gospel is not the property of an individual and cannot be preached according to one’s own whims and fancy. Jesus sends His disciples in pairs – 36 pairs in total. This signifies that it is the community in the Lord, which decides what, where and how the Gospel is to be proclaimed.
Finally, sending 72 ahead of Jesus, Luke emphasizes that we, Jesus’ followers, all have the duty of going and preaching the Gospel in the places wherever it has never reached. Thus, we prepare the world for Christ’s visit. Jesus comes only when people’s hearts and minds are prepared by his followers. If Jesus is not known to many people, then, it means that we have not done our duty faithfully.
It is through the power of the Holy Spirit that we are able to give Christ to the world. Let us preach Him to all in true communion with His only Church.
–Fr. Ranjan D’Sa, OCD