O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
as your kingdom dawns,
turn us from the darkness of sin
to the light of holiness,
that we may be ready to meet you
in our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Happy are those who have the God of Jacob for their help,
whose hope is in the Lord their God;
Who made heaven and earth,
the sea and all that is in them;
who keeps his promise for ever;
Who gives justice to those that suffer wrong
and bread to those who hunger.
The Lord looses those that are bound;
the Lord opens the eyes of the blind;
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
the Lord loves the righteous;
The Lord watches over the stranger in the land;
he upholds the orphan and widow;
but the way of the wicked he turns upside down.
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning, is now and shall be for ever. Amen.
Reading: Matthew 9.35—10.1, 6-8
Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.’
Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. These twelve he sent out with the following instructions: ‘Go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, proclaim the good news, “The kingdom of heaven has come near.” Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment.’
Yesterday Jesus reminded us of our need to have faith and to truly believe in him and in his heavenly Father. After asking that question of two blind men, Jesus restored their sight. Today’s passage from scripture starts not long after the end of yesterday’s reading. So many had been coming to Jesus for healing, and yet he did not show signs of impatience or tiredness. Instead: he had compassion for them. Jesus looked on the needs of those who were coming to him and saw lost and wandering people who were in need of leadership, protection and guidance. Jesus saw people of true faith who needed, desired and deserved his healing in their lives.
Then Jesus summoned his disciples, empowered them to carry on the task and sent them out to: cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. In fact, Jesus sent them out to do everything they had seen him do. Can you imagine how they felt? Can you imagine the expressions of doubt and uncertainty? Can you imagine the incredulous response of those twelve disciples? And yet, they went and, as we read later in the gospel narrative, they achieved all that Jesus had asked of them.
Jesus is asking us to do exactly the same things that he asked of those first disciples. So now you can stop imagining their reactions and consider your own! Jesus is commissioning all those who believe in him to go out as his disciples. Surely, as one who professes the Christian faith, that should be obvious to us all. So, why aren’t we out there curing the sick, raising the dead, cleansing the lepers, casting out demons? Of course we are not doing any of that because we struggle to believe that we can, or even that Jesus expects that of us.
We are all guilty of setting agenda for ourselves that play to what we describe as our ‘strengths’. In reality, those agenda focus on our weaknesses. We set boundaries that mean nothing to God. We decide what we can and cannot do and remain within those bounds. If we take the words literally, we can easily put a case for not being able to do any of those things. But, do we really believe that Jesus does not know that? Our sense of Christian love and service can bring about much healing, if we will only give it a try. That is, if we will only listen to God’s call, pluck up the courage and say: ‘Yes, Lord, if you ask it, I will give it a go!’
Jesus had compassion for them. That is our calling, to have compassion for all with whom we share this earthly life. We are also called to accept the authority and the challenge of discipleship and knock down the false walls that imprison us and isolate us from God.
Prayers of Intercession
Let us pray for the Church entrusted to the Disciples and the world into which they were sent.
As Jesus called the twelve to be disciples, make all members of the Church faithful followers in the way that he taught. Strengthen the hope and love that belong to Christian people.
By the Holy Spirit, bring the radiance of your love into the hearts of all who do not known you. Make the Gospel known to those who wander as lost sheep in the world.
Open our eyes to recognise the needs of others who come close to us. As we go on our way, fill us with desire to speak the good news of the Kingdom.
Relieve and comfort those who suffer from any kind of sickness. Empower those who care for them. Give new hope to those who have lost it through distress of body or mind.
As the living receive your divine compassion in their suffering, grant mercy to those who have died and gather them into your eternal Kingdom.
Called to labour for the Lord, we pray that all we do and say may be truly in his name.
Prayer for the week
God of all hope and joy,
open our hearts in welcome,
that your Son Jesus Christ,
at his coming,
may find in us a dwelling prepared for him
who lives and reigns with you
and the Holy Spirit,
one God now and for ever. Amen.
The Lord’s Prayer
Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has taught us
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come; thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with us all evermore. Amen.
Tell all the world of Jesus,
our Saviour, Lord and King;
and let the whole creation
of his salvation sing:
proclaim his glorious greatness
in nature and in grace;
Creator and Redeemer,
the Lord of time and space.
James Seddon (1915–1983)