IN THE gospel in Luke 10:1-12, 17:20 we read about Jesus appointing seventy-two disciples as advance parties to every town he intended to visit. Their mission was of course to proclaim that the kingdom of God is at hand. They were to preach the gospel, cast out evil spirits and heal the sick – all in the name of Jesus.
The responsible leader that he was, Jesus gave his disciples some guidelines and instructions in accomplishing their mission. They were to expect resistance and hostility like lambs among wolves. They were not be so concerned with their personal needs – “no money bag, no sack, no sandals,” and this is because “the laborer deserves his payment.” Their needs for food and shelter are to be taken care of by their community. And in doing their tasks, they have to be quick, figuratively “greeting no one along the way.”
Just as it was in this gospel story we see in our own time many people who preach about God. We find them in churches, in schools, on the streets, in market places, in public utility vehicles, and in practically everywhere where there are “ears to hear.” We also watch them on TV and we encounter them on various sites and the social media in the internet.
Given this plethora of preachers we ask ourselves who is preaching the right thing, and who among the preachers are genuine and who are counterfeit. Discernment is absolutely needed, lest we fall into the errors of inclusion on one hand, or exclusion on the other; that is, counting as genuine some who are fake, or counting as fake some who are genuine.
Jesus said, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:15-16a).
Elsewhere, in Mark 9:38-40 we read of John saying to Jesus, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” We take note of what Jesus said, “Do not stop him, for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. Whoever is not against us is for us.”
A true messenger is one who proclaims the true message, the core of which is the existence of One God in three Persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit; of Jesus Christ as the Son of God who offered his life on the cross as atonement for our sins, and of a living faith in Christ as the only way to salvation.
In this vein St. Paul writes, “When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come proclaiming the mystery of God to you in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I came to you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. My speech and my proclamation were not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).