Pentecost – a people to the world?

Posted by Fr. Tere on 06/25/2017

Jesus sends the disciples

In last week’s reading from Matthew (10:1-15), Jesus gave authority to the disciples over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. That might have been scary enough, but he told them to only go to the People of God, and not to go at all to those who don’t follow the one, true God. A bit of relief, maybe? They only had to go to people just like them, and share the good news that the Kingdom of God is at hand, then demonstrate it.

Isn’t that a relief to us, too? – when we don’t have to talk to people who don’t look like us, act like us, talk like us, smell like us? Doesn’t that feel safer?

It’s not so bad when we know we’re equipped to do what Jesus asks us to do, when it’s on our schedule, and we are going to places we’re comfortable. We can do that, right? But what about those times when he wants us to go beyond our comfort-zone, to places or people we don’t know as well? A bit more difficult? And that’s not all!

Wolves don't lose sleepThen we get to today’s reading from the same Chapter in Matthew (10:16-33) – things suddenly get sticky, don’t they? Behold, I am sending you out as sheep amid wolves, so be wise as serpents, and innocent as doves. Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. Suddenly, going equipped to do what Jesus asks us to do, even on our schedule, and to places and people with whom we’re comfortable, doesn’t sound so wonderful does it?

We don’t have to go to foreign places to people who don’t look like, sound like, speak like us. We don’t have to be in places where the language is no understood, where the food would make us gag, where bathing seems to be an unlearned trait. Once we begin speaking, “The kingdom of God is a hand,” things can change rapidly.

We live in a world not unlike that of Jesus, a world that claims to be “spiritual,” but defines that without reference to anything outside itself. But when confronted with Truth, the world lashes out – with name-calling, cold shoulders, unreturned telephone calls, anger, or more. Every day we see and hear the reaction someplace around the world. We see it in bombings, in angry words calling for laws to protect heresy, immorality, etc. People sue because their feelings were hurt when someone dared to speak the Truth. The world wants people put in jail, or run out of business, or even killed, because they dare to proclaim there is only one way, one truth, one life.

Do we dare to allow Jesus to send us out? Do we trust in his authority? Do we dare to act boldly, knowing there will be consequences? Or are we content to sit quietly in the corner, hoping against hope that no one will notice that we don’t agree with their agendas, their immorality, their undisguised hatred against the good, the holy? Do we allow things to go on because we don’t want to upset people, or to keep peace in the family, or …?

Do we wonder why we don’t seem to “get anything out of church?” Years ago, I heard a story about a family who went to church one Sunday. On the way home, they criticized everything about the service – the music was too loud, the sermon too long, the pews too hard, the people not friendly enough. Finally, the smallest child among them said, “I thought it was a pretty good show for only a dollar!”

Do we wonder why our faith seems so small, or that we don’t get anything out of it? Do we think that maybe we dare little because we don’t want to be caught acting like sheep in the midst of wolves?

wolves

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