Year A: 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Gospel: Matthew 10: 26-33
Today, Jesus continues His “Mission Sermon” instructing the disciples in the ways they are to carry out their mission of proclaiming the Kingdom.
He is aware of how daunting the task before them is - to take what they have learned from Him in privacy and in long evening discussions out into a world that is not always going to be welcoming - to say the least!
He lays the mission before them - to go into the world and make known all that they have heard - to uncover things that the world may well prefer to have kept hidden - to proclaim a message that the world will try to silence.
It is a frightening prospect - and not something many people would choose. No doubt, the disciples were well aware of the reception they are likely to meet and had, perhaps, expressed these fears to Jesus. He does not pretend that there is nothing to worry about - but does not let them dwell on the fear - rather He turns their minds to the value they have in God’s eyes.
Sparrows were the cheapest things that could be bought at the market but, Jesus says, even a sparrow is known to God. If God values the life of a sparrow, how much more does He value the lives of His human children - made in His own image.
The life which Jesus is speaking about is not just physical well-being - but a spiritual and, potentially, an eternal life. He is forewarning them that there will probably be suffering ahead - but that, if they are faithful to the One who called them, He will claim them as His disciples and friends.
The community Matthew was writing to were largely Jewish Christians - and would have known from personal experience the cost of being a disciple of Jesus. Some would have found the cost too high to bear - and may have “disowned” Jesus - turning back to ways that felt safer.
Matthew is encouraging his readers to hold firm to their new faith - not denying the problems that come with it - but assuring them that, ultimately, any suffering now will be more than outweighed by Jesus declaring Himself for them before the Father.
What does it mean for me?
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