Thursday - July 9
After calling, naming, and sending out the disciples to continue Jesus’ work in yesterday’s Gospel, Jesus continues in today’s Gospel by giving them specific instructions on how they will accomplish their task. Notice how we hear the last verse from yesterday repeated as the first verse today. The Church is again reinforcing the mission we have all received from Jesus through our Baptism. So, let’s examine these specific instructions from Jesus.
Jesus states their mission of healing, raising the dead, and casting out demons. In 2020, we react to these instructions as reasonable. Take care of those in need. Pretty straightforward, right? But in Jesus’ day, this was a radical message. In both a Roman society and a Jewish religious culture, those in need were cast aside. Jesus is telling the disciples to accept the excluded into their community. Wow! Even in today’s world, where there is support for those with physical, mental, and emotional ailments, this group of people are often excluded from opportunities because of their illness. Imagine how different our world could be if we adopted Jesus’ “accept the excluded” mission.
Next, Jesus instructs the disciples not to take what they need for the journey, but to trust in those they will meet and serve. Certainly, that had to be uncomfortable for the disciples to hear, no less obey. Jesus is telling the disciples to build community with those they serve, trust in the sharing that will come when a caring, helping relationship is built. Jesus is setting up a structure and community built on sharing and caring, rather than the taking and taxing society in which they lived.
Jesus then tells the disciples to seek and to create an environment of peace. He is not looking for the disciples, or us, to seek or cause a confrontation, but to make the Kingdom of Heaven present in their midst. Of course, Jesus knows that not all will want or receive the Gospel message of peace, sharing, and community. So, he instructs the disciples to “shake of the dust” of rejection and move on to the next opportunity.
Many different groups of people dealing with the various “afflictions” of the current time are trying to implement change. Whether it’s reacting to a medical crisis like the Coronavirus, or racial and social injustice, or the increase in violence and rioting that is causing even more economic inequality, our world needs healing. As individuals, we may feel helpless and unable to create the structural and large scale changes we desire. But as disciples of Jesus, if we heed His instructions and seek to help the “excluded,” build community based on sharing and caring, and bring comfort and true peace to others, we can make the Kingdom of Heaven present in our midst, one person, one family, and one community at a time.
Today’s Questions for Prayer and Reflection:
Do you believe that the Gospel has power to change your life and the lives of others? Who would be a person of peace to whom you could bring the Good News?