In this week's gospel Jesus sends out 72 disciples in pairs to different towns on the way to Jerusalem, telling them to take nothing with them and that when they arrive in a new place to proclaim their peace and share their peace with that community. But these aren't just any towns or villages to which Jesus is sending the disciples. The places he sends them are all in Samaria, the region between their home in Galilee and their ultimate destination in Jerusalem. And the Jewish community of Jesus and the disciples had a long history of prejudice and animosity with the Samaritans, which is why Jesus was rejected in that first Samaritan city he went to in last week's gospel. It is for this reason that Jesus instructs his disciples to claim their peaceful intentions as soon as they enter a new community.
He knew that the conversations he was asking them to have would be hard, that they were starting from a place of separation and difference in ethnicity and ideology, and that the only way those conversations would be fruitful was if they engaged in that dialogue from a place of peace. In the face of these impossibly complicated histories and insurmountable differences the disciples set out with their peace well in hand to make relationships in the most challenging places possible. What are the relationships or conversations bringing you the most challenge and discomfort this week? What is at the root of that tension? What is one small way you could bring your peace with you to those spaces, relationships, and conversations? Take some time to share some ideas with the group and check in about this again the next time you gather.