In today’s Gospel, Jesus sends the seventy disciples to continue his work of “casting out demons.” In this context, ‘demons’ are any force that destroys humanity and subverts God’s plan for creation. Jesus gives the disciples authority to “tread on snakes and scorpions.” Sounds a bit risky, does it not? Yet, we are told that the disciples “returned with joy” at their success. How did they find the trust to take a risk to confront the evil in the world that dehumanizes God’s creation? To handle snakes and scorpions?
I believe they were able to take the risk because they knew that, through Jesus, they were connected with God, and that God could and would work through them. They trusted that the risk was worth taking because they knew that it was God’s power working through them that protected them. As they confess in the Gospel, they did it all in “your (Jesus’) name.”
Confronting purveyors of hatred, prejudice, discrimination, violence, and all other forces that destroy humanity and subvert God’s plan for creation is a risky business. People will push back… even friends and family members. Yet we Christians joyfully take that risk, trusting that God is working through us. We speak to power. We don’t simply stand by while people gossip about others, or treat others unjustly; we take the risk of actively confronting evil. We do so because in staying connected with God in prayer and asking for God’s help, we trust that God’s power will work in us and through us. We trust as we act in Jesus’ name!