THE CALL TO MISSION – 3
July 10, 2013
Today’s gospel: Matthew 10:1-7
Jesus had started his mission. Knowing that he would turn over the work to his disciples, he taught and trained them, and he send them out on practicum. “Then he summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out and to cure every disease and every illness.” (Mt 10:1). Right at the very start, Jesus gave them his authority and his power over the enemy. Right at the very start, he impressed upon them that their work would involve them in spiritual warfare, that the real enemy is not poverty or disease or injustice or the like, but the enemy is a diabolical evil spirit, Satan.
Jesus proclaimed the kingdom and cured every disease and illness. Now the apostles were to do likewise. Aside from the instruction to cure every disease and illness, they were also to “make this proclamation: ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” (Mt 10:7). They were not yet to do the third thing Jesus did, that is, to teach. This direction would be given them at the end, right before Jesus ascends to heaven (Mt 28:20a), for they were still under training and practicum. The Teacher was still with them, and they were the learners. Later, they would have to be the teachers, with many more as learners.
Now Jesus told the Twelve, “Do not go into pagan territory or enter a Samaritan town. Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Mt 10:5-6). Given that Jesus had come to win salvation for all humankind, his instruction was a strategic move. The work, starting with the core, would grow in ever-expanding circles. Indeed, the expanding work could only be properly carried out by a committed core.
Thus, when Jesus gathered them right before his ascension, he told them that they would be empowered by the Holy Spirit so that they would be his witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). Indeed, the work started in Jerusalem with the Jews (descent of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost). Then, after forming the Jerusalem community as the core, the work moved to Judea and Samaria, when a severe persecution broke out and the disciples were scattered throughout the countryside. Then, the mission to the Gentiles started when Peter converted Cornelius and his household, Barnabas was sent to Antioch, and then Paul with Barnabas went on mission to Cyprus. From then, the gospel has spread to the ends of the earth.
The basic strategy of Jesus is still very relevant for us today.
We grow in ever-widening circles of renewal, and we go in ever-widening circles of evangelization. In society, we start with our own immediate family and relatives, then we go to neighbors and friends, then we go to evangelize everyone else. In a nation, we start in our own city or town, then expanded to other areas (province, state, emirate, etc.), then reach out to other countries throughout the world. In the world, we start with renewing and strengthening the Catholic Church, then we can reach out to the other Christian churches, then we move into the pagan world. In LCSC we start in the parish, then move out to the different chapels/puroks, then go down to the grassroots in every nook and cranny of the parish.
Having a committed core is crucial. Thus we work on our own relationship with Jesus, and bring in our immediate family, so that we can become credible witnesses. Thus Catholics respond to the call to the New Evangelization to renew the Catholic Church (the one true church Jesus founded) so that it can more effectively do her missio ad gentes. Thus parish leaders need to return to covenant faithfulness, so they can be used for the massive evangelization to come through LCSC.
As his core, Jesus chose the ordinary, even the least and the despised. He chose ordinary fishermen, such as the two sets of brothers, Simon and Andrew, and James and John (Mt 10:2). He chose Bartholomew (Nathanael), who said “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” (Jn 1:46a). He chose Thomas who would turn out to be a doubter. He chose Matthew, a despised tax collector. He chose Judas, who ultimately betrayed him (Mt 10:4b). Jesus can use you, no matter how lowly you think your situation is, if only you will let him.
The word “apostle” means “one who is sent.” That is you! Go therefore and proclaim the good news of salvation in Jesus, and made disciples of all the nations.
God bless you.
“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Phil 1:21)