“Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness.” (Matthew 10:1)
In today’s Gospel passage, we see Jesus commissioning the twelve by giving them authority over unclean spirits, diseases and infirmity. Jesus did not simply call labourers, He made sure they were properly empowered for the mission ahead. A labourer without energy or zeal is like a hungry farmer in a very fertile land; he has the seeds but cannot dig and plant. He needs to eat food in other to produce food for others.
As we pray for an increase of vocations, let us also pray for an increase of power and grace in those already called by God into ministry. Like the proverbial shoemaker who was always busy mending shoes for people that he forgot to mend his own shoe and suffered from a wound which made him terribly sick and subsequently ended his career, priests and religious are often victims of their peculiar circumstances. They need our prayers, encouragement and support.
It is instructive to note that in mentioning the names of the twelve, Matthew deliberately puts Judas Iscariot last and adds the phrase “who betrayed him.” What kind of labourer am I? A Judas or a Peter? Am I a James or a John so eager for positions? Or am I Andrew who quietly works in the background? Am I Thomas, Philip or Thaddeus? Or am I Matthew a former tax collector?
You see, none of these labourers was perfect. So long as you are empowered, you too can labour for God. The authority (power) is more important than the person. A traffic controller can stop a truck far heavier than himself because the authority was given to him by the State. However, if the traffic controller decides to sit under a tree playing draft with friends during rush hours, his power is useless.
In today’s first reading, we hear the vibrant words of Hosea again warning the people of the sin of idolatry. This was a time of great material prosperity among the people and they assumed these gods were responsible for their success. As Hosea says, failure to repent would lead to great suffering and starvation in the end.
Let us Pray: Lord Jesus, strengthen the labourers you call into your harvest. Amen.
Bible Study: Hosea 10:1-12, Psalm 105:2-7, Matthew 10:1-7).