Listen to or read a reflection on Matthew 9:32-end
A demoniac who was mute was brought to him. And when the demon had been cast out, the one who had been mute spoke; and the crowds were amazed and said, ‘Never has anything like this been seen in Israel.’ But the Pharisees said, ‘By the ruler of the demons he casts out the demons.’
Then 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.’
As we come to the end of the ninth chapter of St Matthew’s gospel we see a Jesus who has taught a whole new way of living and who has brought healing to many.
He has challenged the practices and presumptions of the religious authorities.
He has already introduced us to the possibility of a new, more intimate relationship with God, his and our heavenly Father.
In modern terms, Jesus has become something of a ‘celebrity’.
This must have been very difficult for the Jewish leaders to either understand or accept!
They sought an explanation for Jesus’ success, and they came up with the only explanation that made sense to them: he must be a double agent – he speaks of God, but he is really in league with the devil!
Matthew will give Jesus’ reply to this accusation later in the gospel narrative.
After two chapters of healing miracles, Jesus is about to send out his disciples to share in his healing ministry in their own right.
If they say that the leader works for the devil, what will they say about his followers?
Today’s message is simple:
Jesus is getting us ready for the call to discipleship.
We live in, what is often described as, an increasingly secular society.
Those who profess the Christian faith are often criticized and condemned.
Jesus is urging us to follow him in standing firm in the knowledge that God wants us to serve him, no matter what others might say or do to stop us.
Jesus reminds us that the harvest is plentiful, no matter what the most vocal might say, and he calls us to be his labourers in the field, working to bring that harvest home – just think of all those people who have engaged with the Church during our period of lockdown!!
Are we up for that challenge?
Prayer for Tuesday 7 July 2020