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(Part 45)


July 11, 2013
Today’s gospel: Matthew 10:7-15

Jesus sends out the Twelve. “As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” (Mt 10:7). Eden, equivalent to paradise or heaven, had been lost. But Jesus has now come to redeem humankind. Now humanity could be restored to God’s original plan, to dwell with Him eternally in heaven. But the experience of that would start here and now, while still on earth. Thus Jesus proclaimed the gospel of the kingdom and taught in the synagogues, with signs and wonders to give a foretaste of the kingdom. Thus Jesus now sends the twelve apostles to cure every disease and illness, and to proclaim the kingdom.

Jesus gave them his instructions. “Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons.” (Mt 10:8a). The devil had distorted God’s plan for His creation. He had overturned the good that God intended His creatures to experience. Now Jesus counter-attacks, and reverses that reversal. The sick are now restored to health, the dead are now restored to life, the shunned lepers are cleansed and accepted back to society, demons are expelled and their control over people broken. In very dramatic ways, the apostles are to demonstrate what is meant by being in the kingdom of heaven.

“Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.” (Mt 10:8b). Another translation of this is: the gift you have received, give as a gift. When we receive the gospel, especially with healing to boot, we must be profoundly grateful, and allow that gratitude to overflow in service for the kingdom, specifically the proclamation of that good news. It is our great privilege to be used by God for the work of evangelization.

The apostles are told not to take provisions for the journey (Mt 10:9-10a). They are to be lean and mean. They are to be mobile. They are not to be overly concerned about the needed resources, because God is committed to provide. The problem with evangelization today is that money determines mission. No money, no mission. Little money, then restricted mission. And since money is always a challenge, then there is no massive evangelization, and consequently no abundant harvest. But the principle should be: mission before money. Given a mission by God, the money will come (unless the money already provided by God is withheld by those entrusted with it).

Being God’s laborer, servant and instrument, He will provide. “The laborer deserves his keep.” (Mt 10:10b). God is not unreasonable, is not selfish, does not withhold what is needed, is in fact quite solicitous as to our needs, so that His mission might be accomplished. We just must make sure we are looking to our needs, not our wants. We plunge into the fray, not go on a comfortable country outing. We are soldiers in the battlefield, not habitues in a country club.

When we encounter resistance not from the enemy but from those we are trying to serve, such as a parish or town or other groups of people, we simply move on. “Whoever will not receive you or listen to your words--go outside that house or town and shake the dust from your feet.” (Mt 10:14). There is much work to be done, and much territory to be covered. We should not get bogged down. And we should not be discouraged and quit. There will be better opportunities somewhere else. For those that resisted our evangelistic efforts, we await a later opportunity, keeping them in our prayers.

Jesus is the Prince of Peace. We are his ambassadors of peace, proclaiming the gospel of peace. We bring peace to hearts and to homes (Mt 10:12). All we can do is to proclaim the gospel. The response of those we are evangelizing is outside our control. They will either receive or reject God’s peace (Mt 10:13).

We proclaim the message of salvation. Rejecting that message will have dire consequences (Mt 10:15). At the last judgment, it will be about entry into heaven, or damnation in hell.

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