The joys of mission

“Go, proclaiming that the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”
Matthew 10: 7

 In today’s Gospel, Jesus sends out the twelve apostles with a strict regimen: no money, no backpack, no second tunic. When I think of all I take when I go out to the countryside – including the car – I cringe at these words.

But the instruction of Jesus is much deeper.

The work of the missionary is first of all to heal: cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons – all signs of the reign of God.

But it is a work that is rooted in gratitude: You have received freely; give freely.

Jesus in one sense makes mission seem so precarious, so full of difficulties.

But there is a little secret in his instructions: “Whatever village or town you enter, look for a worthy person there and stay there…”

How often do I find myself welcomed, fed, and given a bed in the villages. The poorest will insist that I eat something and make special efforts to make me feel welcomed.

The other day I took two seminarians with me to a village. The poor family with a dirt floor house offered us a meal, even though we’d just eaten at another meeting. I was not feeling well and begged off, but I felt bad.

It’s humbling to be fed by the poor.

And it’s a great gift, a gift that for many of us from the US is hard to receive. We think that we are the givers, the ones who have what we need – or can get it ourselves.

To be dependent on others, especially the poor, is to remind ourselves that ALL is gift – all is grace.

Opening myself to that gift is a way to let the Kingdom of God peak through the darkness of our world, illuminating the houses of the poor with the light and warmth of God’s love.

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