Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Followers follow, and those who don't follow aren't followers - To follow Jesus means to follow Jesus into society.

“Now, what happens if you eliminate anything from the Bible that offends your sensibility and crosses your will? If you pick and choose what you want to believe and reject the rest, how will you ever have a God who can contradict you? You won't! You'll have ...A God, essentially, of your own making, and not a God with whom you can have a relationship and genuine interaction. Only if your God can say things that outrage you and make you struggle (as in a real friendship or marriage!) will you know that you have gotten hold of the real God and not a figment of your imagination. So an authoritative Bible is not the enemy of a personal relationship with God. It is the precondition for it.” ― Timothy Keller: (Christian apologist and author)

Gospel Text: (MT 10:1-7)
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.’”

In today’s Gospel, Jesus commissions the twelve Apostles. Throughout the New Testament, we learn of the humanity of these men who Matthew names and who Jesus loves and trusts with continuing his mission. They are from varied backgrounds. They doubt, question, argue, and betray. They are human. And Jesus loves them; we can also believe that we too are loved by God.

So here’s the thing, when we have reacted to a situation with a human but perhaps not so wise choice, when we do things we later regret, we can know that indeed, we are loved. We can know that God embraces us in our humanity, in our weaknesses, in the bad times as well as the good.

In our own day, there are many fallen-away Catholics, and of course we pray for them. But we can do more for them than just pray. With the sort of love that Jesus held in His Sacred Heart when he looked at the crowds and said, “the harvest is abundant, but the laborers are few”, we can listen with compassion to those who are wounded. We can offer gentle instructions to those who don’t know what to do to begin living their faith—to begin again to receive the sacraments, the gifts of grace which come from the apostles and which build upon the apostles’ ministry of reaching out to others.

It’s the bishops’ responsibility—and the responsibility of those priests who work under their bishops—to bring those lost sheep back into the fold through the sacraments. But often, it will be ordinary Christians who point those lost sheep in the right direction.

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