The Gospel according to Matthew (10:7-15)
“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. Do not take gold or silver or copper for your belts; no sack for the journey, or a second tunic, or sandals, or walking stick. The laborer deserves his keep. Whatever town or village you enter, look for a worthy person in it, and stay there until you leave. As you enter a house, wish it peace. If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; if not, let your peace return to you. Whoever will not receive you or listen to your words—go outside that house or town and shake the dust from your feet. Amen, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.”
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, make your kingdom come in my heart and in the world.
Encountering Christ: Have you ever felt unwanted or unwelcome in someone’s home? It is awkward and uncomfortable. I was taught as a child to welcome anyone who came to our door. If we were not in the front of the house, we would have to come out of our bedrooms or from outdoors to say hello and make them feel at home. To not go out of our way to accommodate our guest would be considered rude and discourteous.
The part of today’s Gospel that has always caused me to feel uncomfortable is “go outside that house or town and shake the dust from your feet.” This, of course, was the result of the people in that home or town rejecting the peace offered to them. Still, this seems harsh. There is even more with regard to those who reject peace and those who offer it. Even Sodom and Gomorrah would fair better on the day of judgement. Rough! So, is this a lesson in etiquette and hospitality?
Once again, we must look deeper at what Jesus presents to us. God is merciful and forgiving. He is a God of love and inclusion. However, His offer of salvation, through His son Jesus Christ, is an invitation not an obligation. For every action there is a reaction. For every decision, a consequence. We reap what we sow. Time and time again I have learned this hard lesson, that I have the capacity, freedom of choice to walk toward God or away from Him and his gift.
Jesus tells his disciples to proclaim that the kingdom of God is at hand. How else would they be able to cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, and drive out demons if not by the hand of God. For it was God who was in their midst. Salvation was present in the flesh. Yet, with all of this evidence of “The Kingdom” many still decided to reject it. They would prefer to continue their existence without the presence of God. It is hard to believe how anyone could reject the gift of eternal salvation. No, no it is not. And let’s not start by pointing a finger in any direction! This would lead to the inevitable conclusion that we, who call ourselves Christian, can reject Jesus and His teachings. Think not? At the conclusion of our day let us make a sincere and honest examine. Look back and with the grace of God retrace our steps and see where, when, and how many times we strayed from the narrow path.
So, may this be a reminder that with a heart full of gratitude and humility we are to go out into the world without gold or silver, a sack, second tunic, etc. and joyfully proclaim the kingdom of God. Yes, some will reject us and our message but that should never cause us to judge those who do or discourage us from our mission. Peace be with you and all who live with you.
Closing Prayer: Lord, we know you did not come into the world to deliver us from the sufferings of this world but from sin and eternal death. Help us to continue our journey to you and through our lives and encouragement make your kingdom present in our homes and everywhere we go.
Action for the Day: Offer the peace of Christ to someone and be prepared for either rejection or acceptance without losing our zeal to proclaim the Kingdom of God.