Wednesday - July 8
Today we begin the section of Matthew’s Gospel known as the “Discourse on the Mission” in which Jesus teaches the disciples how to proclaim and spread the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth. All of Chapter 10 in Matthew is this Discourse on Mission, followed by a narrative section in which Jesus shows how to put into practice what he teaches (Chaps. 11&12). In today’s Gospel, emphasis is placed on three aspects: the call of the disciples; the list of the names of the twelve Apostles who will be the recipients of the Discourse; and the sending out of the twelve.
The Discourse starts with the call of the disciples. Jesus “summons” his disciples to follow Him, the Master. He gives them the authority to carry out the same mission of Jesus, namely, to drive out unclean spirits, and to cure all sorts of diseases and illness. Notice how their call is not just to support Jesus during His mission on earth. Nor is it to worship Him and pray for Him, so that He might be successful. Jesus calls them to follow Him and continue the mission of healing and spreading the Gospel message. Likewise, through our Baptism, we are given the same mission as those first disciples. Their response created a “Church” that has spread the Gospel message for 2,000 years. If we respond to Jesus’ call like the disciples, the Good News will continue to spread throughout our lives and indeed until the end of time as we know it.
Jesus calls the disciples by name. This list represents not just a historical record, but a very personal interaction each disciple had with Jesus. Jesus called each of His disciples personally. That is why I admire those, who, as adults make a very personal decision to join our Catholic Church. They are more likely to have had that very personal encounter with Jesus, receiving His call in their hearts and soul. But even those of us baptized Catholic as infants, by the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, have at some point, that same personal encounter with Jesus, and that calls us to enter more deeply into our mission to follow Jesus.
Lastly, Jesus sends the disciples out, instructing them to proclaim to others that , “The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” While Matthew was specifically writing to a Jewish audience, we know from the post-resurrection accounts and the mission of Paul that this Proclamation of the Kingdom was meant for all people in the world. Sometimes we Catholics get too focused on the “practices” of our faith, especially pertaining to prayer and liturgical worship. These are absolutely essential. But we must not lose sight that our primary mission is to “Go Out” and make disciples, as Pope Francis and Bishop Conlon have so eloquently reminded us, and as our Gospel reminds us today.
Today’s Questions for Prayer and Reflection:
In what way am I being called by Jesus to go on mission and proclaim His message of the Kingdom? What other “disciples” in my parish community can support me in this mission?