First Reading: 1 Hos 11:1-4, 8e-9
Psalm: 80:2ac, 3b, 15-16
Gospel: Mt 10:7-15
The commissioning of the apostles foreshadowed the great evangelical mission of the Church as given by the risen Jesus before his return to the Father. As baptized members of the Church, we have inherited that mission. We should see it as an exciting challenge. Sad to say, many of us consider it as a burden placed on our shoulders. It is a tragic irony that we who have the fullness of the Good News do not proclaim our faith with the same fervor and zeal as so many Protestant denominations do.
A common problem is that we are fearful of evangelizing because we are not as clear as we should be about the message that we should proclaim. Jesus was very clear about the message that his disciples should preach: “The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Repent and believe the Good News.” Our message is, in essence, the same: the kingdom of heaven has arrived in Jesus. It is his victory over sin and death that enables us to proclaim: “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.”
Another difficulty is the fear of our own weaknesses. Somehow we are able to accept that the preaching of the first disciples was blessed with all sorts of miracles and other signs. But we have little or no expectation that our efforts will be similarly blessed. We need to recall that, like the apostles, we are not expected to rely on our own meager resources. We have Jesus’ promise of the Holy Spirit. The good news about preaching the Gospel is that he is always present as we bear witness in his name. His is the power of conviction, forgiveness, reconciliation and salvation, a power so awesome that nothing can stand against it. In his power and with his love every good thing is possible.
Perhaps the greatest obstacle to our witnessing to Jesus is our fear that we may attract ridicule and hostility. It is when this happens that we can know most fully Jesus’ presence in us, for he has said: “Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.”