Saturday, July 15, 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 10,24-33
Jesus said to his disciples: "The disciple is not superior to teacher, nor slave to master. It is enough for disciple to grow to be like teacher, and slave like master. If they have called the master of the house "Beelzebul", how much more the members of his household? 'So do not be afraid of them. Everything now covered up will be uncovered, and everything now hidden will be made clear. What I say to you in the dark, tell in the daylight; what you hear in whispers, proclaim from the housetops. 'Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; fear him rather who can destroy both body and soul in hell. Can you not buy two sparrows for a penny? And yet not one falls to the ground without your Father knowing. Why, every hair on your head has been counted. So there is no need to be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. 'So 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. But the one who disowns me in the presence of human beings, I will disown in the presence of my Father in heaven.
• Today’s Gospel presents to us diverse instructions of Jesus on the behaviour 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 the fact of being disciples of Jesus, they will be persecuted (Mt 10, 17-23). But this should not be a reason for worrying, 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 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 say the truth. The disciples should not be afraid to be persecuted. Those who persecute them, succeed to pervert the sense of the facts and to spread calumnies which change truth into lie, and the lie into truth. But no matter how great is the lie, 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 succeed to pervert the meaning of things and the persons who proclaim the truth are considered as criminals; they make the neo-liberal system to appear as just and it perverts the sense 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 succeed to 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 orders to look at the birds in the air. Two sparrows are sold for a penny, but not one of them will fall to the ground without the Father wanting. Every hair on our 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 head! 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
• Are you afraid? Afraid of what? Why?
•Have you been persecuted sometimes because of your commitment to announce the Good News of God which Jesus announced to us?
5) Concluding Prayer
Your decrees stand firm, unshakeable,
holiness is the beauty of your house,
Yahweh, for all time to come. (Ps 93,5)