Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on December 3, 2011

Gospel reading of the day:

Matthew 9:35–10:1, 5a, 6-8

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.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Today’s gospel is a message of apostolicity. We are a people who have received a commission. We are charged to tell the good news of the imminence of the Kingdom of God. We are to give comfort to the sick, give hope to broken hearts, touch those whom the world rejects and despises, and cast out all the terrible things that afflict humanity’s body and soul. The gospel does not recommend to us some wistful ideal. It is a summons to concrete, here and now action. It is about the everyday need that God purposely lays in our path, because we as baptized persons are the way God answers the prayers of the sick, the broken hearted, the rejected, and the afflicted. How can we walk past a homeless person with hand stretched to us in need and dismiss his anguish with, “He’ll just spend it on booze,” not give anything, not return the person’s gaze, not even say a prayer for his well-being, and then call ourselves disciples of Jesus Christ? Jesus said, Give to everyone who asks you. He did not add, but first do a needs assessment before you decide to act.

The gospel is not pie in the sky. It is about making ourselves poor for the poor, about having less so that others with nothing can have more. It is about what actions we take in our lives from day to day, minute to minute, second to second. We do not have time to waste. Jesus is hungry, thirsty, estranged, naked, sick, and chained in our streets; Jesus is out there waiting for us–for you, for me–in the flesh and blood reality of our lives. As we make our way to Christmas, pilgrim people that we are, the journey within is a journey toward the other.

Saint of the day: Jesus asked, “What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?” (Matthew 16:26a). The words were repeated to a young teacher of philosophy who had a highly promising career in academics, with success and a life of prestige and honor before him.

Francis Xavier, 24 at the time, and living and teaching in Paris, did not heed these words at once. They came from a good friend, Ignatius of Loyola, whose tireless persuasion finally won the young man to Christ. Francis then made the Spiritual Exercises under the direction of Ignatius, and in 1534 joined his little community (the infant Society of Jesus). Together at Montmartre, they vowed poverty, chastity, and apostolic service according to the directions of the pope.

From Venice, where he was ordained priest in 1537, Francis Xavier went on to Lisbon and from there sailed to the East Indies, landing at Goa, on the west coast of India. For the next 10 years he labored to bring the faith to such widely scattered peoples as the Hindus, the Malayans and the Japanese. He spent much of that time in India, and served as provincial of the newly established Jesuit province of India.

Wherever he went, he lived with the poorest people, sharing their food and rough accommodations. He spent countless hours ministering to the sick and the poor, particularly to lepers. Very often he had no time to sleep or even to say his breviary but, as we know from his letters, he was filled always with joy.

Francis went through the islands of Malaysia, then up to Japan. He learned enough Japanese to preach to simple folk, to instruct and to baptize, and to establish missions for those who were to follow him. From Japan he had dreams of going to China, but this plan was never realized. Before reaching the mainland he died. His remains are enshrined in the Church of Good Jesus in Goa.

Spiritual reading: When the Church hears the cry of the oppressed it cannot but denounce the social structures that give rise to and perpetuate the misery from which the cry arises. (Archbishop Oscar Romero)

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