14TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME (WEDNESDAY)
“These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions”. These words have been proclaimed in today’s Holy Gospel. Jesus has reached the point where he needs help to reach out to other people. He can’t do it alone. Jesus appoints / chooses / selects (not elects) 12 men to witness to him and to his ministry. He sends out these 12 Apostles with these instructions.
First, the Apostles are Jesus’ instruments of spreading the Gospel. They are his instruments of evangelization: “As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven is near’”. Second, the Apostles are Jesus’ instruments of reconciliation and forgiveness: “Go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel”. Finally, the Apostles are Jesus’ instruments of healing: “He gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness”.
This passage is not just the retelling of an historical event that happened 2,000 years ago. This passage has meaning for us today. The word “apostle” means “those who are sent”. Just as Jesus needed to appoint followers to minister to other people in his day, He still needs to choose disciples to reach out to others today.
Who is being sent today to complete Jesus’ mission? Strictly speaking, the bishops are the successors of the Apostles. However, the Church is not just the Pope and the Bishops. We are the people of God; we are the Church. As members of Christ’s Body, we have a responsibility of continuing Christ’s ministry of outreach to those whom we meet.
I repeat the question: Who is being sent today to complete Jesus’ mission? You and I are the ones being sent. Our Baptism is our appointment to ministry by the Lord. You and I, by virtue of our Baptism, are chosen to be Jesus’ followers in this age at this time. We are the apostles of today. By virtue of our Baptism, we are called to be Jesus’ disciples bringing the joy of the Gospel, reconciliation, forgiveness and healing to the people we encounter in our daily living.
In our humanity and in our sinfulness, we may wonder how God can possibly use us. As we look at the list of the names of the 12 Apostles, we can see that they were all ordinary, uneducated and imperfect men. Yet, they produced extraordinary results and set in motion unstoppable events that have revolutionized our world.
Just as Jesus knew their hearts and their potential, Jesus knows our abilities and gifts and what we can do for His kingdom. Just as Jesus chose these 12 men to be his instruments in 30 AD, he chooses us to do His work in Sudbury in 2020. Just as the Lord needed the 12 Apostles to be witnesses to the Gospel to the people of their day, Jesus needs us to witness to Gospel values to the people we encounter.
This task may seem an overwhelming one. The natural question may be: What can God possibly want from me? But let us recall these words from the Entrance Antiphon: “God himself gives might and strength to his people”. We do not become committed to the Gospel through our own efforts. Actively spreading the faith is ultimately the work of God who uses our weakness, our brokenness and our imperfections to accomplish his purposes. Therefore, let us not be preoccupied with our limitations, our inadequacies or whether we are good enough. God will provide the necessary courage and strength required for the mission.
The bottom line is that a Christian ethic will only exist in this community if we bring it here. If we are not instruments of evangelization, reconciliation, forgiveness and healing, who else will be?
Parents raising children, students attending class, adults at their job, priests in their ministry, the elderly in long term care facilities, each one of us – we all are the Body of Christ. Jesus continues his work through each member of his body, including every one of us in this church.
“These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions”. Today Christ is giving the same invitation to you and to me that he gave to the 12 Apostles 2,000 years ago: I have chosen you, be my instrument and bring my good news in this time, in this culture and in this society. We know how these 12 responded. The question is: How will we respond?
Just as Jesus Christ once depended on the 12 Apostles, so now he is depending on us! As our Eucharistic celebration continues, let us ask God to help us to be faithful disciples and effective witnesses to his Gospel in our time.
Deacon Roland Muzzatti
July 8, 2020