The pep talk

jesus-and-disciplesIn today’s gospel, Jesus gives a “pep talk” to the twelve disciples he is sending out on mission. It has to be the worst pep talk ever – realistic, but grim.

16 “Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves.17 But beware of people, for they will hand you over to courts and scourge you in their synagogues,18 and you will be led before governors and kings for my sake as a witness before them and the pagans.19 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.20 For it will not be you who speak but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.21 Brother will hand over brother to death, and the father his child; children will rise up against parents and have them put to death.22 You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved.23 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. (Matthew 10:16–23)

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A possible way ahead

jesus-and-disciplesIn today’s gospel,As you enter a house, wish it peace. If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; if not, let your peace return to you. Whoever will not receive you or listen to your words— go outside that house or town and shake the dust from your feet.

Shaking off the dust from the feet is an symbol of dissociation. Nehemiah 5:13 has a similar act as does Acts 13:51 (as Paul and Barnabus shake the dust of Antioch off their feet and move on to Iconium. In all its forms, one is calling it quits and they want nothing more to do with the place (Luke 10:11 spells it out more fully). Continue reading

The Mission and Instructions

Christ-sending-His-ApostlesKnowing the Mission. I have two thoughts for you today. The first concerns “the twelve” while the second involves Jesus’ instructions: “Do not go into pagan territory or enter a Samaritan town. Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” (Mt 10:5-6)

The Twelve. This is the first time in Matthew’s gospel that Jesus calls to himself a “select team” of disciples to whom he will assign a mission. Up to this point in time, the disciples were called one-by-one, witnessed Jesus’ proclamation of the Kingdom of heaven being at hand, and watched Him perform miracles. Now they are being sent out to proclaim the Kingdom. Continue reading

Mystery of human freedom

jesus-apostles-endtimesThis coming Sunday is the 15th Sunday of Ordinary Time in Year B. The gospel for the day comes from Mark 6 and narrates the beginning of mission for the disciples.

Instructions for the Mission. 10 He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave from there. 11 Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them.” Continue reading

For the Journey

jesus-apostles-endtimesThis coming Sunday is the 15th Sunday of Ordinary Time in Year B. The gospel for the day comes from Mark 6 and narrates the beginning of mission for the disciples.

Rejected by his own family and home crowd, Jesus preaches elsewhere and sends his twelve disciples out with special instructions and powers. It is good to remember that the apostles are not sent out as a reaction to the rejection. The mission of the apostles is part of a larger plan. First, Jesus had call them personally (1:16–20). Then he selected twelve special ones to accompany him (3:13–19). The Twelve, tutored by Jesus and present with him as he healed many from sickness and evil (chapters. 3–5), are now ready to become apostles, in Greek, literally the “ones sent out.” Continue reading

Belief and Rejection

jesus-apostles-endtimesThis coming Sunday is the 15th Sunday of Ordinary Time in Year B. The gospel for the day comes from Mark 6 and narrates the beginning of mission for the disciples.

Some context for the gospel. The miracles of the preceding chapter in the Gospel according to Mark demonstrate his divine powers. Jesus overcomes the life-destroying powers of demonic possession, chronic illness, and death. The gospel two weeks prior contained the stories of Jairus/his daughter and the women with the hemorrhage. Each account tells of an imperfect faith, yet enough faith that God enters into their lives in a way that is healing and ultimately life-giving. For Jairus’ daughter, it is the restoration of life; for the woman with the hemorrhage it is being restored to the fullness of life as her illness will no longer keep her from living life to its fullness in this lifetime. The miracles, viewed together even as they as told together, are the vestige of Jesus’ fuller mission: that all might have life eternal, free from death, and have life completely. Jesus is forming new family bonds, no longer centered on blood relationships, but on faith and those willing to act on that faith. Continue reading

Into the World

Luke-upper-roomIn our gospel for Pentecost Sunday, Jesus’ first words are “Peace be with you.” His second words are “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” (John 20:21) That should give each one of us pause, for we too by virtue of our Baptism are sent into the world…just as the Father sent Jesus.

The Fourth Gospel speaks often of Jesus being sent into the world by the Father: to do his will (6:38–39; 8:29), to speak his words (3:34; 8:28; 12:49; 14:24; 17:8), to perform his works (4:34; 5:36; 9:4) and win salvation for all who believe (3:16–17).

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Musings from Away

While musing, as I am wont to do, it came to me that 25 years ago this month, I arrived in Kenya to serve as a Franciscan lay missionary. Back in those days there were no blogs to post musings. Where we lived it was a good day to have electricity and that was usually limited to the season when the rains had come and hydro power was available. When you live in the slums and it is time to ration electrical power or water, we often were the first to experience the cuts. Back in 1996 the Web was starting to gain some momentum, but it was still just a few years old.

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Radical Loyalty

Next Sunday is the celebration of the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time. You can read a complete commentary on the Gospel here.

37 “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me;38 and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me.39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.40 “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.41 Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever receives a righteous man because he is righteous will receive a righteous man’s reward.42 And whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink because he is a disciple—amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward.”  (Mt 10:37-42) Continue reading

Life in Mission

Next Sunday is the celebration of the 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time. You can read a complete commentary on the Gospel here.

26 “Therefore do not be afraid of them. Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known. 27 What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light; what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.28 And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.29 Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge.30 Even all the hairs of your head are counted.31 So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.32 Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father.33 But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father.”  (Mt 10:26-33) Continue reading