Monday in the Fourteenth Week of Ordinary Time
Matthew 9:18-26 - World English Bible
18 While Jesus told these things to them, behold, a ruler came and worshiped him, saying, "My daughter has just died, but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live."
19 Jesus got up and followed him, as did his disciples. 20 Behold, a woman who had an issue of blood for twelve years came behind him, and touched the fringe of his garment; 21 for she said within herself, "If I just touch his garment, I will be made well."
22 But Jesus, turning around and seeing her, said, "Daughter, cheer up! Your faith has made you well." And the woman was made well from that hour.
23 When Jesus came into the ruler's house, and saw the flute players, and the crowd in noisy disorder, 24 he said to them, "Make room, because the girl isn't dead, but sleeping."
They were ridiculing him. 25 But when the crowd was put out, he entered in, took her by the hand, and the girl arose. 26 The report of this went out into all that land.
After the fasting controversy in Matthew 9:15-17, Jesus performed miracles for two people in a way the put his kosher status to the test. He was touched by a woman who had an "issue of blood," an imbalance in her menstrual cycle that left her unfit for marriage under the Law (Leviticus 18:19) and perpetually unclean (Leviticus 15:25-27). But her initiative, she violated his status, she made him unclean to restore not only her health, but her status in the community. The Lord did not reject her for her violation of the Law (she broke her quarantine), but recognized her effort because of her faith.
In the second miracle, he went to the home of a dead girl to raise her back to life. After he chided the mourners for their lack of faith, he touched the girl (making himself unclean) and restored her.
Both narratives point out the risks Jesus took to bring just a touch of the Kingdom to those in need. He violated the quarantine the Law erected and touched the weak and the dead. He's truly a "hands-on" Savior.
How has Jesus been "hands-on" in your life?Top of the page
Tuesday in the Fourteenth Week of Ordinary Time
Matthew 9:32-38 - World English Bible
32 Behold, a mute man who was demon possessed was brought to Jesus. 33 When the demon was cast out, the mute man spoke. The multitudes marveled, saying, "Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel!"
34 But the Pharisees said, "By the prince of the demons, he casts out demons."
35 Jesus went about all the cities and the villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the Good News of the Kingdom, and healing every disease and every sickness among the people. 36 But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion for them, because they were harassed and scattered, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest indeed is plentiful, but the laborers are few. 38 Pray therefore that the Lord of the harvest will send out laborers into his harvest."
In this narrative, Jesus healed a mute demonic, someone who could not speak and who acted in socially inappropriate and destructive ways. Afterwards, the man spoke, the people praised God and the Pharisees reacted by blaming Satanic power for the act of kindness. Why did the enemies of Jesus say such things? Jealousy was one answer; the Lord had healing powers, a charismatic personality and a message about a hopeful future that the Pharisees did not possess. Another answer was found in past studies; Jesus was willing to break social taboos and the status of kosher to serve the needy; this approach was antithetical to the religious norms at the time in the Jewish community and, so, created controversy. In the end, he continued his mobile ministry, bringing God's word and power to people throughout the area.
But this was not enough. The Lord needed helpers, other missionaries to do as he did. So, he encouraged his followers to pray for others to carry the Good News to strangers, for missionaries to be like farm hands harvesting a bountiful crop. To employ another image Jesus used, the sheep were scattered and needed shepherds to lead them back to God.
Have you prayed for missionaries? Have you prayed in your own efforts to evangelize?Top of the page
Wednesday in the Fourteenth Week of Ordinary Time
Matthew 10:1-7 - World English Bible
1 Jesus called to himself his twelve disciples, and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every sickness. 2 Now the names of the twelve apostles are these. The first, Simon, who is called Peter; Andrew, his brother; James the son of Zebedee; John, his brother; 3 Philip; Bartholomew; Thomas; Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus; Lebbaeus, who was also called Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Canaanite; and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.
5 Jesus sent these twelve out, and commanded them, saying, "Don't go among the Gentiles, and don't enter into any city of the Samaritans. 6 Rather, go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 As you go, preach, saying, 'The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!'"
After Jesus commanded his followers to pray for missionaries ("harvesters in the fields" in Matthew 9:38), he chose the Twelve. These were the apostles, a term that meant "those sent out." He began with the first he called, the two sets of brothers, Simon Peter and Andrew, James and John, then listed the men in descending order (according to Matthew's gospel), finally naming Judas Iscariot. In the end, he commanded them to go in pairs and do what he did, preach the Good News to the lost sheep among the people of Israel.
Thus began the second or "Missionary" discourse that we will investigate over the next week.
Jesus calls you by name for a mission. What is your mission? Who are you to bring the Good News to?Top of the page
Thursday in the Fourteenth Week of Ordinary Time
Matthew 10:7-15 - World English Bible
Jesus said to the Twelve:
7 "As you go, preach, saying, 'The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!' 8 Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, and cast out demons. Freely you received, so freely give. 9 Don't take any gold, silver, or brass in your money belts. 10 Take no bag for your journey, neither two coats, nor shoes, nor staff: for the laborer is worthy of his food. 11 Into whatever city or village you enter, find out who in it is worthy; and stay there until you go on. 12 As you enter into the household, greet it. 13 If the household is worthy, let your peace come on it, but if it isn't worthy, let your peace return to you. 14 Whoever doesn't receive you, nor hear your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake off the dust from your feet. 15 Most certainly I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city."
Everyone needs a motto in life. Mine comes from Matthew 10:8b, "Freely you received, so freely give." Or, as I like to translate the verse, "The gift you're given, give to others." This simple phrase sums up for me the call of the disciple.
Jesus sent out the Twelve with a mission, to do what he did, to preach God's message and heal with God's power. He instructed them to travel light, unencumbered with money or extra clothing, so they would not be desirable targets for thieves. His orders also meant they were to travel short distances. Once they arrived at a village, he wanted them to accept the hospitality of a single clan; if they moved from family to family, they might cause hurt feelings and scandal, being perceived as seeking the "best deal in town." He ordered them to bless the host family with "Shalom," peace. Notice, this was more than a greeting; it was a divine command on equal pare with the Good News, for it was the peace of the Christ. If peace did not reign on their mission, if the message and ministry of those sent caused scandal, the peace would return to them. Those who rejected the missionaries would be rejected; shaking the dust of one's feet was a grave insult, implying those rejected were not worth even the dust below one's sandal, even below the level of the snake that slithered on the ground (the devil). Those who rejected God's message and power would be truly condemned.
While we might not be called to travel as missionaries, we are disciples. We are to be Christ to others, just as the apostles represented the Lord to those who heard the Good News. We, like the Twelve, are to go and give to others the gift of faith given to us.
Who have you evangelized this week?Top of the page
Friday in the Fourteenth Week of Ordinary Time
Matthew 10:16-23 - World English Bible
Jesus said to the Twelve:
16 "Behold, I send you out as sheep among wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. 17 But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to councils, and in their synagogues they will scourge you. 18 Yes, and you will be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony to them and to the nations. 19 But when they deliver you up, don't be anxious how or what you will say, for it will be given you in that hour what you will say. 20 For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.
21 "Brother will deliver up brother to death, and the father his child. Children will rise up against parents, and cause them to be put to death. 22 You will be hated by all men for my name's sake, but he who endures to the end will be saved. 23 But when they persecute you in this city, flee into the next, for most certainly I tell you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel, until the Son of Man has come."
What are the dangers of missionary work? For the followers of Jesus it could mean suffering and death, both in public and in the clan. What attitudes should they have entering this endeavor? They should be as wily as the devil ("serpents" in 10:16), yet have the attributes of the angels ("doves"). In other words, they should be knowing, yet honorable.
Suffering could happen in public, both in the religious sphere (synagogues) and the secular arena (in the courts of governors and kings). Even if they were presumed guilty, they were to evangelize, for the Spirit would give them the words to speak. So, they were not to worry.
Persecution could come within the family, as well. Ancient Roman law (called "Pater Familias") recognized the right of the patriarch to protect the honor of the clan, even if its reputation demanded the death of a family member. If a family member became a disciple, such conversion could be disruptive, even resulting in hatred and violence. In ancient society, the honor of the clan outweighed the faith of the individual. But, to the disciple, the need to evangelize mean more than the good of the extended family. The one who survived persecution would be saved. The need to tell others about Christ trumped even one's own honor, for escape in order to spread the Good News was a greater imperative than the glory of a martyr's death.
What are the costs of evangelization in your life?Top of the page
Saturday in the Fourteenth Week of Ordinary Time
Matthew 10:24-33 - World English Bible
Jesus said to the Twelve:
24 "A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his lord. 25 It is enough for the disciple that he be like his teacher, and the servant like his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more those of his household! 26 Therefore don't be afraid of them, for there is nothing covered that will not be revealed; and hidden that will not be known. 27 What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in the ear, proclaim on the housetops. 28 Don't be afraid of those who kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul. Rather, fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.
29 "Aren't two sparrows sold for an assarion coin? Not one of them falls on the ground apart from your Father's will, 30 but the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Therefore don't be afraid. You are of more value than many sparrows. 32 Everyone therefore who confesses me before men, him I will also confess before my Father who is in heaven. 33 But whoever denies me before men, him I will also deny before my Father who is in heaven."
In these verses from Matthew, Jesus addressed the worth of the disciple and the worth of his message. First consider the worth of the individual. Ancient society assessed value upon one's class and one's linage. A few did move up the society and economic ladder, but the vast majority remained static; one's worth, then, depended upon cultural pecking order and bragging rights. Here, one's linage came into play. One's ancestors and teachers gave one honor, simply because it gave him something to boast about. A disciple shared in the glory of his master, but never more than that.
If the reputation of a disciple could not transcend his master (unless he broke away from that master), then he could not add to the master's message, only clarify it, making clear what was confused (hidden), proclaiming opening (from the rooftops) what was spoken in private. In the case of Jesus, the faithful disciple gave glory to his Master by spreading the teaching of and about the Christ, so the Master should honor the disciple. The Christian disciple, then, had far more worth than birds that could be purchased to offer the sacrifice of the poor in the Temple. He add real worth because he evangelized and brought others to the Lord.
What is your worth as a Christian?Top of the page