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.’
Today’s reading emphasizes Jesus’ call for each of us to act as his apostles in the world. Our reading opens with a description of Jesus leading from the front. We are told that he went about all the cities and villages. We are also told that he taught, proclaimed the good news of the kingdom, and cured every disease and every sickness. Then we read of Jesus summoning his disciples, giving them authority and sending them out into the world with the instruction: Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons.
As we read these words we might be forgiven for thinking that Jesus’ commission to his twelve disciples is not for us. They stand in his physical presence. They have seen Jesus work these wonders. They have been given power and authority to do the same in his name. Surely, we do not see ourselves as being in the same league as those twelve disciples! However, Jesus’ call to both discipleship and apostleship remains unchanged. Jesus’ call is for everyone who would profess a faith in him. We are, indeed, called to cure, raise, cleanse and cast out all that diminishes life in those whom we encounter day by day.
In recent times we have experienced a new way of living. We have been locked down in the interest of public safety. We have seen restrictions imposed on our work and our leisure. Face coverings and hand sanitiser have been part of our daily routines. But, this is not all that has come to the fore in the days of the pandemic. We have also experienced a growing awareness of the mental fragility that has wreaked havoc in the lives of many. Of course, that mental fragility is not new, but it has become more obvious.
Many people live out their lives on a knife-edge, whether it be financial, medical or social. Whilst the outward façade may be one of confidence and stability the reality for many is just not like that. Beneath the surface there is pain and suffering on a significant scale. It is in this world of pain that faithful Christian love and service can work miracles.
Throughout his ministry, Jesus was to be found among those who were most in need. In the second half of today’s reading we hear Jesus sending his twelve disciples out to do the same. We are also called to share Christ’s healing presence with others. We might not be able to heal physical ailments, but we can certainly play our part in helping others feel better and to draw closer to the God who loves them. We just have to step outside our own comfort zones and follow Jesus’ example.
Let us pray for those who are struggling with fear, isolation and a sense of abandonment. Let us pray that we might respond to Jesus’ commission and take his healing presence into those damaged lives. Let us pray that Jesus might work his wondrous miracle of healing through our words and actions.
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