Wednesday, July 11, 2018
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 to drive them out and to cure every disease and every illness. The names of the Twelve Apostles are these: first, Simon called 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 Thaddeus; Simon the Cananean, and Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus. Jesus sent out these Twelve after instructing them thus, “Do not go into pagan territory or enter a Samaritan town. Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.’”
• The second great Discourse: The Discourse of the Mission begins in chapter 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 Mount: the entrance door into the Kingdom (Mt 5 to 7)
Narrative Mt 8 and 9
b) Discourse on the Mission: how to proclaim and spread the Kingdom (Mt 10)
Narrative Mt 11 and 12
c) Discourse on the Parables: The mystery of the Kingdom present in life (Mt 13)
Narrative Mt 14 to 17
d) Discourse on the Community: the new way of living together in the Kingdom (Mt 18)
Narrative 19 to 23
e) Discourse on 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 on 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 on 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 unclean spirits, to cure all sorts of diseases and all sorts 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” (Mk 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 devils, that is, to announce the Good News and to conquer the force of evil which destroys the life of the people and alienates people. 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 (Gen 29:33). James is the same as Jacob (Gen 25:26). Judas is the name of another son of Jacob (Gen 35:23). Matthew also had the name of Levi (Mk 2:14), who was another son of Jacob (Gen 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 people’s desire to start history again from the beginning! Perhaps it is good to think about the names which are given today to 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 to the lost sheep of Israel. After having given the list of the names of the twelve, Jesus sends them out with the following command: “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 command there is a three-fold insistence on 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 9:1-11, 36; cf. Acts 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, openness to the gentiles will occur (Mt 15:21-29).
• The sending out of the Apostles to all peoples. After the Resurrection of Jesus, there are several episodes on the sending out of the Apostles not only to the Jews, but to all peoples. In Matthew: “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and 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 16:15). 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; Acts 1:8) John summarizes all in one sentence: “As the Father has sent Me, so I also send you!” (Jn 20:21).
4) Personal questions
• Have you ever thought 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?
• How has your name influenced who you have become and how your life was formed?
• Jesus calls the disciples. His call has a two-fold purpose: to form a community and to go on mission. How do I live this two-fold purpose in my life?
5) Concluding Prayer
Seek Yahweh and His strength,
tirelessly seek His presence!
Remember the marvels He has done, His wonders,
the judgments He has spoken. (Ps 105:4-5)