The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; ask therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest. Matthew 9:37-38
All-powerful God, in Jesus Christ you turned death into life, and defeat into victory:
increase our faith and trust in him, that we may triumph over evil, in the strength of the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
- Genesis 18:1-15
- Psalm 116:1-2, 11-18
- Romans 5:1-11
- Matthew 9:35-10:8
- Next week:
- Genesis 21:8-21
- Psalm 86:1-10, 16-17
- Romans 6:1-11
- Matthew 10:24-39
A Thought to Ponder
Pentecost 3 – Matthew 9:35 – 10:8
Jesus sent out these twelve after instructing them thus, “… As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons. Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.”
Today’s Gospel serves as a narrative transition from Matthew’s recounting of Jesus’ miracles and works of wonder (chapters 8 and 9) to Jesus’ missionary discourse (chapters 10 and 11).
The missionary dimension of discipleship is centred in two images: the “sheep without a shepherd” and harvest in need of labourers. Having established his identity as God’s Christ in his work as a healer, Jesus now commissions the Twelve and his Church to heal hearts and souls in a
ministry of reconciliation:
“cure the sick” – bring back to God those who are alienated, those who are lost, those who are weak (the Greek word used in the text of today’s Gospel asthenes means “weak”);
“raise the dead” – lift up those hopelessly and helplessly dead because of sin, who are blind and deaf to the grace of God, who are entombed by poverty, racism and violence;
“cleanse lepers” – bring back the sons and daughters of God who are rejected or estranged from the human family;
“drive out demons” – liberate those enslaved by sin and evil.
Jesus’ compassion for the “shepherd-less” calls us to bring to the lost, forgotten and marginalised (those Pope Francis calls those on the “periphery”). Today’s Gospel reaffirms our responsibility as disciples of Jesus to welcome rather than condemn, to lift up rather than judge, to seek reconciliation with those from whom we are estranged or separated for whatever reason.
Every one of us, in our struggle to make sense out of life, seeks absolutes by which to guide our decisions, formulae to determine what is fair and good, yardsticks to judge success and failure. Masters and gurus, saviours and deliverers, parties and movements of every stripe preach to their
followers how to secure fortunes but not how to live, how to feel better but not how to cure what afflicts, how to conquer one’s enemies but not how to live lives of justice and peace. Christ the “shepherd” walks with us on our life’s journey through hurt and change and maturity and wholeness to the dwelling place of God.
The defining mark of discipleship is the willingness and commitment to bring healing to the broken, comfort to the afflicted, hope to the despairing. In his first “organisational meeting” of the Twelve, Jesus commissions them to take on the work of healing, restoring, reconciling. As God humbled himself to become one of us and be part of our lives, we are called to the same humility in order to bring the compassion and forgiveness of God to the poor, the needy, the helplessly and hopelessly “dead,” the alienated, the rejected and the abused.
You can read the Pew Sheet here