Genesis 41:55-57; 42:5-7a, 17-24a
Ps 33:2-3, 10-11, 18-19 (with 22)
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew.
Jesus summoned his Twelve disciples
and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out
and to cure every disease and every illness.
The names of the Twelve Apostles are these:
first, Simon called Peter, and his brother Andrew;
James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John;
Philip and Bartholomew,
Thomas and Matthew the tax collector;
James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddeus;
Simon the Cananean, and Judas Iscariot
who betrayed Jesus.
Jesus sent out these Twelve after instructing them thus,
“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.'”
Good News Reflection:
In the Gospel reading today, notice that Jesus did not send out the twelve apostles as separate individuals when he gave them the mission of conquering demons and curing diseases. They were a community of believers. They needed each other.
Even after Pentecost, when the community moved out in different directions to spread the Church, they traveled with partners and remained firmly connected to the local Christian community.
None of us, not even our diocesan priests today (who too often live alone due to a shortage of priests), are meant to be disconnected from community life. We thrive best and are most effective when we have good relationships in the embrace of a Christian community. Good friends in that community make us accountable in temptations, support us, challenge us, and minister to us.
The first Apostles were a mixed bunch. Some of them were already friends when they met Jesus. Some were brothers. And some were strangers. Some were old, some were young. They had varied educational backgrounds, some with credentials and some with none. They came from a wide range of professions, and they differed in their expectations of the Messiah. And yet, Jesus wanted them all to be part of the same community.
Whom has God placed in your life to surprise you? Who’s seemingly too different from you to be included in your circle of Christian friends? Who’s a potential companion in a ministry where you prefer to do the work by yourself?
Also notice that Jesus never asked for the group’s input when he invited a new person to join them. This is what makes Christian community interesting. It’s the Lord who chooses the members — or it should be, and if we ever try to control who’s in our circle of friends, we should give it up and put Jesus back in charge. Oh, and if he adds a Judas to your group, trust that there’s a good reason for it. He knows what he’s doing. Sure, it will lead to suffering, but only for a good cause.
God knows who should be in our lives. When we do the selecting, we end up in relationships that go sour and communities that fall apart. But when we find ourselves in the fellowship of people whom we would not have chosen, we can be sure it’s Jesus who pulled us together. God has a sense of humor. The very people we try to avoid are often the ones we end up working with in Christian service!
There are no coincidences in a Christian’s life. Take note of that person you keep “accidentally” bumping into. There’s an undiscovered collaboration between the two of you, which God has ordained. In God’s perfect timing, the partnership will be revealed.
Don’t be afraid. Enjoy the unexpected, the faith-stretching, the amazing benefits of letting God choose your partners in the missions that he gives you. There’s much that Jesus wants to accomplish by putting you together.
We cannot successfully fulfill the mission of our calling without community. If you feel alone and miserable, that’s exactly how God wants you to feel. He’s trying to motivate you to take the risk of getting involved in community with other Christians. Choose a ministry at your parish or go anyplace where there are other Catholics, and get involved! Don’t let anything hold you back.
Lord, You entrusted me with the power of Your Spirit to heal the ill ones, to comfort the afflicted ones, and to deliver those who are chained by evil. Work in me whatever is necessary to discover this richness and to announce joyfully, together with my brothers and sisters, that Your Reign is among us. Amen.
© 2017 by Terry A. Modica