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(Part 47)


July 13, 2013
Today’s gospel: Matthew 10:24-33

Jesus has just assured the apostles that they will undergo persecution. Not quite an encouragement for mission? On the contrary. Jesus had asked them to follow him and they did. They had left their nets, their families, their jobs. They embarked on a journey to the unknown. But they learned to trust and to love their Teacher and Master. Now here Jesus was taking them to the next level. He told them of great persecutions to come.

It actually was a profound encouragement. They would walk the very path of Jesus. They would be privileged to carry and embrace the cross just as he would. Jesus was accepting and acknowledging them as truly his disciples. They would share the same fate, as a true disciple goes the way of his master. “No disciple is above his teacher, no slave above his master.” (Mt 10:24). They already knew this. But now they were being made to see the glorious reality of it all. “It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, for the slave that he become like his master.” (Mt 10:25a). Indeed, that would be more than enough.

Now Jesus strengthens their resolve. He repeatedly tells them not to fear. “Therefore do not be afraid of them.” (Mt 10:26a). “And do not be afraid of those who kill the body” (Mt 10:28a). “So do not be afraid” (Mt 10:31a). We can see from Jesus’ repeated assurance that for ordinary human beings, there would indeed be much to be afraid of. But we are about God’s work, and the grace of God is abundant, and the power of the Spirit is provided. Here was the Master assuring his disciples.

  • “you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Mt 10:31b). Jesus had already taught them about how God cares for the birds. So how much more would He care for His beloved children.
  • “do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul” (Mt 10:28a). Our ultimate destination is heaven. Death is but a gateway. What is most important is the salvation of souls, which is the work of those who are sent.
  • “Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known.” (Mt 10:26b). Apostles proclaim the concealed and secret coming of the Kingdom, and that is the greatest service they can do for humankind. They are commissioned by Jesus himself, and in this work they will always have Jesus’ presence through the Holy Spirit.
  • “Even all the hairs of your head are counted.” (Mt 10:30). God made us, Jesus knows us by name, the Spirit intimately knows every bit about us. Before we ask for our needs in prayer, God is already providing. Before we even recognize the dangers we face, God is already building a protective shield around us. Even as we are figuring out how to win a battle, the Lord has already laid the groundwork for victory.

So there will be persecutions. “If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more those of his household!” (Mt 10:25b). Persecutions indicate that one is indeed doing God’s work, and is successfully assaulting the kingdom of darkness. Therefore, all the more, those who are sent should “speak in the light” and “proclaim on the housetops.” (Mt 10:27). If they are to be afraid, they should only fear the success of the diabolical, who holds the world under his dominion, and who leads many more to perdition. Thus, “afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna” (Mt 10:28b), we must resolve to intensify the work of evangelization and mission, so that many more souls would not be lost.

At the end of it all, we look to our eternal reward, and know that all the suffering and pain would be worth it, because Jesus will welcome his good and faithful servants, who proclaimed him to others despite persecutions, to heaven. “Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father.” (Mt 10:32).

But there is a warning and a downside. “But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father.” (Mt 10:33). Not to proclaim Christ is to effectively deny him, because he has told us to proclaim the gospel of salvation in him, and is relying on us to do his work. Not to do so would be to turn our backs on him and his “need.”

Onward to the New Evangelization!

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