Lectio Divina: Matthew 10:24-33
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 10:24-33
Jesus said to his Apostles: “No disciple is above his teacher, no slave above his master. It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, for the slave that he become like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more those of his household! “Therefore do not be afraid of them. Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known. What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light; what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna. Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge. Even all the hairs of your head are counted. So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father. But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father.”
• Today’s Gospel presents to us various instructions of Jesus on the behavior that the disciples have to adopt in the exercise of their mission. What strikes most in these instructions are two warnings: (a) the frequency with which Jesus refers to the persecutions and suffering which they will have to bear; (b) the insistence repeated three times to the disciples not to be afraid.
• Matthew 10:24-25: Persecutions and sufferings which mark the life of the disciples. These two verses constitute the final part of a warning of Jesus to the disciples concerning persecutions. The disciples should know that, because of being disciples of Jesus, they will be persecuted (Mt 10:17-23). But this should not be a reason for worry, because a disciple should imitate the life of the Master and share the trials with Him. This is part of discipleship. “A disciple is not greater than the teacher or a servant greater than his master; it is sufficient for the disciple to grow to be like his teacher and the servant like his master.” If they called Jesus Beelzebul, how much more will they insult His disciples? In other words, the disciple of Jesus should be worried if, in his life, there are no persecutions.
• Matthew 10:26-27: Do not be afraid to tell the truth. The disciples should not be afraid to be persecuted. Those who persecute them pervert the meaning of the facts and spread calumnies which change truth into lies. But no matter how great the lie, the truth will triumph at the end and will make the lie crumble down. This is why we should not be afraid to proclaim truth, the things which Jesus has taught. Every day, the means of communication pervert the meaning of things and the people who proclaim the truth are considered as criminals; they make our system appear as just and it perverts the meaning of human life.
• Matthew 10:28: Do not be afraid of those who kill the body. The disciples should not be afraid of those who kill the body, who torture, who strike and cause suffering. Those who torture can kill the body, but they cannot kill liberty and the spirit in the body. They should be afraid, yes, that the fear of suffering may lead them to hide or to deny the truth, and that this will lead them to offend God, because anyone who draws away from God will be lost forever.
• Matthew 10:29-31: Do not be afraid, but trust in Divine Providence. The disciples should not fear anything, because they are in God’s hands. Jesus tells them to look at the birds of the air. Two sparrows are sold for a penny, but not one of them will fall to the ground without the Father knowing. Every hair on your head has been counted. Luke says that not one hair falls without our Father wanting it (Lk 21:18). And so many hairs fall from our heads! Because of this “Do not be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows.” This is the lesson which Jesus draws from the contemplation of nature.
• Matthew 10:32-33: Do not be afraid to be the witnesses of Jesus. At the end Jesus summarizes everything in this sentence: “If anyone declares himself for Me in the presence of human beings, I will declare Myself for him in the presence of My Father in heaven; 33: the one who instead will disown Me in the presence of human beings, I will disown him in the presence of My Father in heaven.” Knowing that we are in God’s hands and that God is with us, at every moment, we have the necessary courage and the peace to render witness and to be disciples of Jesus.
4) Personal questions
• What are you afraid of? Why?
• Have you ever been persecuted because of your commitment to announce the Good News of God which Jesus announced to us?
• Persecution is not comfortable. There can be many small persecutions throughout a day. Do you ever deny Jesus in little things to make your life more comfortable and not make trouble? How is this important?
5) Concluding Prayer
Your decrees stand firm, unshakable;
holiness is the beauty of Your house,
Yahweh, for all time to come. (Ps 93:5)