Friday, July 14, 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 10,16-23
Jesus said to his disciples: “Look, I am sending you out like sheep among wolves; so be cunning as snakes and yet innocent as doves. 'Be prepared for people to hand you over to sanhedrins and scourge you in their synagogues. You will be brought before governors and kings for my sake, as evidence to them and to the gentiles. But when you are handed over, do not worry about how to speak or what to say; what you are to say will be given to you when the time comes, because it is not you who will be speaking; the Spirit of your Father will be speaking in you.
'Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will come forward against their parents and have them put to death. You will be universally hated on account of my name; but anyone who stands firm to the end will be saved.
If they persecute you in one town, take refuge in the next; and if they persecute you in that, take refuge in another. In truth I tell you, you will not have gone the round of the towns of Israel before the Son of man comes.
• To the community of his disciples, called and gathered together around him and invested with his same authority as collaborators, Jesus entrusts them directives in view of their future mission.
• Matthew 10, 16-19: Danger and trust in God. Jesus introduces this part of his discourse with two metaphors: sheep in the midst of wolves; prudent as serpents, simple as the doves. The first one serves to show the difficult and dangerous context to which the disciples are sent. On the one hand, the dangerous situation is made evident in which the disciples sent on mission will find themselves; on the other the expression “I send you” expresses protection. Also regarding the astuteness of the serpent and the simplicity of the dove Jesus seems to put together two attitudes: trust in God and prolonged and attentive reflection on the way in which we should relate with others.
Jesus, then, following this gives an order that seems, at first sight, filled with mistrust: «beware of men...”, but, in reality, it means to be attentive to possible persecutions, hostility, and denouncement. The expression “will deliver you” does not only refer to the accusation in the tribunal but, above all, it has a theological value: the disciples who is following Jesus can experience the same experience of the Master of “being delivered in the hands of man” (17, 22). The disciples must be strong and resist in order “to give witness”, The fact of being delivered to the tribunal should become a witness for the Jews and for the Pagans, it is the possibility to be able to draw them to the person and the cause of Jesus and, therefore, to the knowledge of the Gospel. This positive implication is important as a result of witnessing: characterized by the credible and fascinating faith.
• Matthew 10, 20: the divine help. So that all this may take place in the mission-witness of the disciples it is essential to have the help that comes from God. That is to say that we should not trust our own security and resources, but the disciples in critical, dangerous and aggressive situations, for their lives found help and solidarity in God. For their mission as disciples is also promised the Spirit of the Father (v.20), he is the one who acts in them when they are committed in their mission of evangelization and of witnessing, the Spirit will speak through them.
• Matthew 10, 21-22: Threat-consolation. Once again the announcement of threat is repeated in the expression “will be delivered”: Brother will betray brother, a father against his son, the sons against the parents. It is a question of a true and great disorder in the social relationships, the breaking up of the family. Persons who are bound by the most intimate family relationships – such as parents, children, brothers and sisters – will fall in the misfortune of mutually hating and eliminating one another. In what sense does such a division of the family have to do with the witness in behalf of Jesus? Such breaking up of the family relationships could be caused by the diverse attitudes that are taken within the family, regarding Jesus. The expression “you will be hated” seems to indicate the theme of the hostile acceptance on the part of the contemporaries and of those he sent. The strong sense of the words of Jesus find a comparison in another part of the New Testament: «Blessed are you if you are insulted for the sake of Christ’s name, because the Spirit of glory, the Spirit of God, rests upon you. No one of you should suffer as a murderer or thief or evil doer or as a spy. But if one suffers as a Christian, do not blush, because of this name, rather give glory to God”. After the threat, follows the promise of consolation (v.3). The greatest consolation for the disciples will be that of “being saved”, of being able to live the experience of the Saviour, that is to say, to participate in his victories.
4) Personal questions
• What do these dispositions of Jesus teach us today for understanding the mission of the Christian?
• Do you know how to trust on divine help when you experience conflicts, persecutions and trials?
5) Concluding Prayer
Give me back the joy of your salvation,
sustain in me a generous spirit.
Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will speak out your praise. (Ps 51,12.15)