Friday, July 10 ~ Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Holy Gospel: Matthew 10:16-23 Jesus said to his Apostles: “Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves. But beware of men, for they will hand you over to courts and scourge you in their synagogues, and you will be led before governors and kings for my sake as a witness before them and the pagans. When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say. You will be given at that moment what you are to say. For it will not be you who speak but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will hand over brother to death, and the father his child; children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to another. Amen, I say to you, you will not finish the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.”
Meditation: What does Jesus mean when he tells his disciples that they must be sheep in the midst of wolves? The prophet Isaiah foretold a time when wolves and lambs will dwell in peace (ref. Isaiah 11:6 and 65:25). This certainly refers to the second coming of Christ when all will be united under the Lordship of Jesus after he has put down his enemies and established the reign of God over the heavens and the earth. Until that time, the disciples must expect opposition and persecution from those who oppose the gospel. Jesus never hesitated to tell his disciples what they might expect if they followed him. And the message that Jesus gave to his disciples then is just as pertinent today, for many of us have felt like lambs among the wolves when we discuss or practice living out our faith. Simple practices such as asking the Lord to bless our food before a meal while in a public restaurant can often draw stares from people, let alone standing up for what is right and truthful – protection of human life by speaking out against abortion; preserving the institution of marriage as designed by God, versus same-sex marriage (both of which will be in the news quite a bit during this election season). Jesus never said that proclaiming God’s word, and answering his call to “follow me” would be an easy one. Jesus suffered and died on the cross as a result of proclaiming God’s word! Are we willing to suffer, remembering what Christ said in today’s gospel: “You will be hated by all because of my name, and whoever endures to the end will be saved.” What is more important – being popular among people in this earthly life, or being loved by Jesus Christ for being a true disciple? The answer is clear, but we must decide for ourselves which path we must take – and the result of our decision puts nothing less than our chances of obtaining eternal life at stake. Don’t be fooled by others, or fool yourself; make the right decision by following Christ.
Prayer: O God, who in the abasement of your Son have raised up a fallen world, fill your faithful with holy joy, for on those you have rescued from slavery to sin you bestow eternal gladness. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Contemplation: What Jesus is telling us in today’s gospel comes down to this: This is my task for you at its grimmest and worst; do you accept it? This offering means a lot of blood, toil, sweat, tears, and heartache. We tend not to think of this when Jesus our Lord and Savior commissions us in his service. Nonetheless, our privilege is to follow in the footsteps of the Master who laid down his life for us. Recall what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says: “The way of Christ ‘leads to life’; a contrary way ‘leads to destruction.’” (CCC #1696) Now, once more, are you willing to accept hardship and suffering in following in the footsteps of Jesus our Lord – footsteps which lead to a simpler, less complex life on earth while leading us on the path to eternal life? Or are you looking to be popular with the people of this earth – “get along” for the sake of getting along, while turning your back on the laws of God and the teachings of Jesus Christ? Will you deny him as Peter did? Or will you stand up and stand firm against the tide of all that is contrary to the laws of God and the teachings of Jesus Christ? It’s your call – make the right one! God’s laws and Christ’s teachings are timeless. Can we say that about anything else on this earth?