It is a well-remembered fact that Christ appointed twelve men to be his apostles and to help him carry out his work. What is less well-remembered is that Christ also appointed seventy-two others, giving them a distinct mission of their own, and sending them off ahead of him in pairs.
We must not lose sight of these facts in an era that ignores or downplays the institution established and organized by Jesus Christ. In fact, that institution still exists. It contains a great variety of peoples, cultures and ideas, but it remains united and it remains organized. Furthermore, it retains the authority given to it by its founder. “Whoever listens to you,” Christ told his seventy-two, “listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me. And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.” See Luke chapter 10.
If we have enough faith to accept this teaching of Jesus, then let us be vigilant, seeking to receive those appointed by Christ and to listen to them. One way to recognize them is by their speech. Christ told them what to say. To some people they will say “Peace to this household,” and to others “The kingdom of God is at hand for you,” and to still others “The dust of your town that clings to our feet, even that we shake off against you.” If we hear a message of peace, or a message of God’s kingdom, or even a message of reproach, let us listen attentively. In fact, we should cultivate a desire to hear these messages, going out of our way, even, to find them. May our Lord strengthen our desire to hear him, to hear his true message, and to hear his true messengers.