Listen to or read a reflection on Matthew 10:1-7.
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 are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax-collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him.
These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: ‘Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, proclaim the good news, “The kingdom of heaven has come near.”’Matthew 10:1-7
In J. R. R. Tolkien’s great novel, The Lord of the Rings, the hobbit, Frodo Baggins, begins his great adventure to save the world from its own corrupted history by recalling the words of his much travelled uncle, Bilbo.
Bilbo’s message was something like this: There is only one Road, that is like a great river: its springs are at every doorstep, and every path is its tributary. You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to.
Today’s reading is about our call to go out onto that road and to live the life of true apostles.
In this account of the sending out of the twelve men first chosen and called by Jesus we are hearing Jesus’ call to us as well.
Incidentally, we should note that Matthew does call them ‘apostles’, which means those who are ‘sent out’. There is absolutely no doubt what Jesus expects of them, and us.
The end of our reading may seem a little strange because Jesus seems to be very exclusive in the mission he is laying before those twelve chosen men.
He tells them to go only to the Jewish community, and not to those who are gentiles, that is those who reject the Jewish faith.
This is, of course, not where the Christian message was meant to stop, but it was where the prophecies of the Old Testament suggested that it should begin.
Jesus’ coming to earth, the coming of the Anointed One of God, was the fulfilment of the promises of God to the Jewish nation.
It was right and proper that they should hear the news first.
But, as we know, the majority of the Jews were to reject the fulfilling of God’s promise and to go on to execute him in the cruellest of ways.
This is just the beginning, though.
At the end of Matthew’s gospel we will encounter Jesus’ Great Commission to all who would profess the Christian faith, which in the earliest days of the Church was known as The Way.
In that Great Commission Jesus commissioned his remaining eleven apostles, and us, to
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
Jesus is calling us, as his faithful apostles, to go out and live the apostolic life, even though we can never predict where that road may lead us.
Are we ready to be true, joyful and faithful apostles of our Lord and our God, and step out on to the Road he has prepared for us to walk in his name?