Good morning, happy Friday, and many blessings.
According to our Gospel for today, Matthew 10:16-23, there is going to be a clear interval of time ‘before the Son of Man comes’ back. But the followers of Jesus will not be entirely on their own. They will be able to rely on the power of the Holy Spirit – sent by God – no matter what troubles come.
Once again Jesus calls us sheep and warns us that the wolves are near. How will you react? Remain inside, surrender your personal freedom. Live the rest of your life in fear as a prisoner in your own home? Take up arms, blow and blast in an attempt to eliminate or annihilate the wolves? Get out your wolf costume and pretend to be one of them, as you slip past? Trust in your shepherd who said, “go in and out and find pasture”, “don’t be afraid of the wolves, for I will protect you”!
It is important to notice that Jesus called all sorts of people – you didn’t have to be as pure as driven snow. None of these men were born leaders, highly schooled, or well-positioned in the synagogue. And although Matthew does not tell us this, we also know from other scriptures that Jesus called women to be disciples. None of his followers had training to heal or preach before they met Jesus; none would have been considered persons headed for sainthood or martyrdom. But they dropped their nets, left their jobs and families, and followed Jesus without looking back. What a motley crew they must have been. Scripture tells us that they didn’t even get along with each other; there was all kind of jockeying to be Jesus’ favorite. Some mothers even got into the act.
The circumstances in which Jesus invites us to share the Good News and the obstacles we experience in doing this are very different today than they were in Jesus’ time. Jesus expects us to live outside our comfort zone. He challenges us to defend our faith. Jesus says it as it is. No candy colored floss here. I must ask God, ‘Am I willing to accept hardship in following you?’ God, please strengthen my faith and give me courage that I may not shrink back from doing your will.
Commitment to Jesus Christ is long-term. In difficult times his help will be there, and our convictions about him may lead to conflict even with those closest to us. We are compared to sheep - these find their way even among wolves if they follow the shepherd.
My invitation for today: To be with this reading in a prayerful way, name some of these difficulties you experience in being the best person you can be and speak to Jesus about them.