Jesus went around to all the towns and villages,
teaching in their synagogues,
proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom,
and curing every disease and illness.
At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them
because they were troubled and abandoned,
like sheep without a shepherd.
Then he said to his disciples,
“The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few;
so ask the master of the harvest
to send out laborers for his harvest.”
Then he summoned his Twelve disciples
and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out
and to cure every disease and every illness.
Jesus sent out these Twelve after instructing them thus,
“Go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.’
Cure the sick, raise the dead,
cleanse lepers, drive out demons.
Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.”
(Matthew 9:35 to 10:1, 5-8)
9:36 like sheep without a shepherd Jesus’ compassion for the people was intensified by the lack of leadership to help them (compare John 10:1–18; Ezek 34). Without a shepherd, sheep are prone to wander and vulnerable to danger.
9:38 send out laborers for his harvest Sets the stage for the events of Matt 10, as Jesus commissions His disciples to proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God.
10:1 he summoned his Twelve disciples So far, Matthew has described the calling of only five disciples (Matt 4:18–22; 9:9). Jesus had many followers, but these were His leaders—those whom He commissioned to build His Church. unclean spirits Refers to evil spirits or demons. According to Jewish purity laws, people inhabited by such spirits were unclean.
10:5 pagan Jesus first extends His announcement of the kingdom of heaven to the Jews, who were eagerly awaiting its arrival. Their eventual rejection of Jesus leads to the Gentile mission, which receives its clearest expression in the ministry of the Apostle Paul (e.g., Acts 9:15). Samaritan Refers to people of mixed Israelite and foreign descent who lived in the region of Samaria (formerly the northern kingdom of Israel).
10:6 the lost sheep of the house of Israel Refers to Jews. “Lost sheep” commonly served as a metaphor for a hopeless and leaderless people (see Matt 9:36).
10:7 The kingdom of heaven is at hand The disciples were to preach the same message that Jesus preached and that John the Baptist preached before Him (compare 3:2; 4:17).
10:8 The actions listed here authenticate the disciples’ message. These actions also show the arrival of the kingdom of heaven (Luke 4:17–19). Without cost you have received Jesus calls on the disciples to share the blessings of the kingdom of heaven with no expectation of being compensated.
Friends, today’s Gospel, taken from the magnificent tenth chapter of Luke’s Gospel, is a portrait of the Church. It shows us what Jesus wants his followers to do and how to do it. We are a missionary Church. We are sent by the Lord to spread his word and do his work. The Christian Gospel is just not something that we are meant to cling to for our own benefit. Rather, it is like seed that we are meant to give away.
We do this work together, with others, in community. Ministers need people to support them, pray for them, talk to them, challenge them. Francis of Assisi had an experience of God and then, within months, gathered people around him; Dominic, from the beginning, had brothers in his work; and Mother Teresa attracted a number of her former students to join her in her mission. We don’t go it alone.
And prayer is not incidental to ministry. It is not decorative. It is the lifeblood of the Church’s efforts. Without it, nothing will succeed; without it, no ministers will come forward. At all points, pray, pray, pray.
– Bishop Robert Barron
May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.