Wednesday, July 12, 2017
1) Opening prayer
through the obedience of Jesus,
your servant and your Son,
you raised a fallen world.
Free us from sin
and bring us the joy that lasts for ever.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2) Gospel Reading - Matthew 10,1-7
Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits with power to drive them out and to cure all kinds of disease and all kinds of illness.
These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon who is known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James the son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who was also his betrayer.
These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them as follows: 'Do not make your way to gentile territory, and do not enter any Samaritan town; go instead to the lost sheep of the House of Israel. And as you go, proclaim that the kingdom of Heaven is close at hand.
• The second great Discourse: The Discourse of the Mission begins in charter 10 of the Gospel of Matthew. Matthew organizes his Gospel as a new edition of the Law of God or like a new “Pentateuch” with its five books. For this reason his Gospel presents five great discourses or teachings of Jesus followed by a narrative part, in which he describes the way in which Jesus puts into practice what he had taught in the discourses. The following is the outline:
Introduction: the birth and preparation of the Messiah (Mt 1 to 4)
a) Sermon on the Mountain: the entrance door into the Kingdom (Mt 5 to 7)
Narrative Mt 8 and 9
b) Discourse of the Mission: how to announce and diffuse the Kingdom (Mt 10)
Narrative Mt 11 and 12
c) Discourse of the Parables: The mystery of the Kingdom present in life (Mt 13)
Narrative Mt 14 to 17
d) Discourse of the Community: the new way of living together in the Kingdom (Mt 18)
Narrative 19 to 23
e) Discourse of the future coming of the Kingdom: the utopia which sustains hope (Mt 24 and 25)
Conclusion: Passion, death and Resurrection (Mt 26 to 28)
• Today’s Gospel presents to us the beginning of the Discourse of the Mission, in which the accent is placed on three aspects: (a) the call of the disciples (Mt 10, 1); (b) the list of the names of the twelve Apostles who will be the recipients of the Discourse on the Mission (Mt 10, 2-4); (c) the sending out of the twelve (Mt 10, 5-7).
• Matthew 10, 1: The call of the twelve disciples. Matthew had already spoken about the call of the disciples (Mt 4, 18-22; 9, 9). Here, at the beginning of the Discourse of the Mission, he presents a summary: “He summoned his twelve disciples, and gave them authority over unclean spirits with power to drive them out and to cure all kinds of diseases and all kinds of illness”. The task or the mission of the disciple is to follow Jesus, the Master, forming community with him and carrying out the same mission of Jesus: to drive out the unclean spirits, to cure all sorts of diseases and all orts of illness. In Mark’s Gospel they receive the same two-fold mission, formulated with other words: Jesus constituted the group of Twelve, to remain with him and to send them out to preach and cast out devils” (Mc 3, 14-15). 1) To be with him, that is to form a community, in which Jesus is the center. 2)To preach and to be able to cast out the devils, that is, to announce the Good News and to conquer the force of evil which destroys the life of the people and alienates persons. Luke says that Jesus prayed the whole night, and the following day he called the disciples. He prayed to God so as to know whom to choose (Lk 6, 12-13).
• Matthew 10, 2-4: The list of the names of the Twelve Apostles. A good number of these names come from the Old Testament. For example, Simon is the name of one of the sons of the Patriarch Jacob (Gn 29, 33). James is the same as Giacomo (Gn 25, 26). Judas is the name of the other son of Jacob (Gn 35, 23). Matthew also had the name of Levi (Mk 2, 14), who was the other son of Jacob (Gn 35, 23). Of the Twelve Apostles seven have a name which comes from the time of the Patriarchs. Two are called Simon; two are called James; two are called Judas, one Levi! Only one has a Greek name: Philip. This reveals the desire of people to start again the history from the beginning! Perhaps it is good to think in the names which are given today to the children when they are born. Because each one of us is called by God by his/her name.
• Matthew 10, 5-7: The sending out or the mission of the twelve apostles toward the lost sheep of Israel. After having given the list of the names of the twelve, Jesus sends them out with the following recommendation: “Do not make your way to gentile territory, and do not enter any Samaritan town, go instead to the lost sheep of the House of Israel. And as you go, proclaim that the Kingdom of Heaven is close at hand”. In this one phrase there is a three-fold insistence in showing that the preference of the mission is for the House of Israel: (1) Do not go among the gentiles, (2) do not enter into the towns of the Samaritans, (3) rather go to the lost sheep of Israel. Here appears a response to the doubt of the first Christians concerning opening up to pagans. Paul, who strongly affirmed the openness to the gentiles, agrees in saying that the Good News of Jesus should first be announced to the Jews and, then to the gentiles (Rm 9, 1 a 11, 36; cf. At 1, 8; 11, 3; 13, 46; 15,1. 5.23-29). But then, in the same Gospel of Matthew, in the conversation of Jesus with the Canaanite woman, the openness to the gentiles will take place (Mt 15, 21-29).
• The sending out of the Apostles toward all peoples. After the Resurrection of Jesus, there are several episodes on the sending out of the Apostles not only toward the Jews, but toward all peoples. In Matthew: Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to observe everything which I have commanded. And I will be with you until the end of time” (Mt 28, 19-20). In Mark: “Go to the entire world, proclaim the Good News to all creatures. Those who will believe and will be baptized will be saved; those who will not believe will be condemned” (Mk 15-16). In Luke: "So it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that in his name, repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be preached to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses to this (Lk 24, 46-48; Ac 1, 8) John summarizes all in one phrase: “As the Father has sent me, so I also send you!” (Jn 20, 21).
4) Personal questions
• Have you ever thought sometime about the meaning of your name? Have you asked your parents why they gave you the name that you have? Do you like your name?
• Jesus calls the disciples. His call has a two-fold purpose: to form a community and to go on mission. How do I live in my life this two-fold purpose?
5) Concluding Prayer
Seek Yahweh and his strength,
tirelessly seek his presence!
Remember the marvels he has done, his wonders,
the judgements he has spoken. (Ps 105,4-5)