July 2, 2017
The gospel text for this Sunday is the conclusion of Jesus’ instructions to the twelve before he sends them out to preach to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” In the gospels Jesus often draws on the images of sheep and shepherds to illustrate the kind of relationship the religious leaders should have toward the people. Today’s gospel is part of his instructions to his disciples as he sends them to the lost sheep. He is sharing the mission that he has received with them.
The admonition that a disciple must love Jesus more than one’s family would sound even more shocking to Jesus’ contemporaries than it does to people today. Most of us are raised in a way that will prepare us for the day when we will leave home to start our own families. Many today assume that this may include moving to another city or even a different country. For a person to leave one’s family at the time of Jesus was totally unacceptable, and it would likely result in the death of all but the most resourceful. A person’s worth, esteem, honor, and financial support were all based in their family. Those outside the family were viewed with suspicion.
While Jesus’ instruction reminds the disciples of what they are leaving behind, he also tells them what they will receive in exchange. They will go out as representatives of Jesus himself. They are the first ones who have received a prophet, Jesus himself, and they will receive the prophet’s reward. As the simplest act of courtesy, giving a cup of water (or the use of a bathroom) will reap abundant blessing from God, the gift of their sacrifice to proclaim God’s coming will be blessed in the same way. Jesus’ instruction would have made a shocking impact on the early disciples as they prepared to proclaim the coming of God. He reminds them of the dedication required of them and the great blessing being bestowed on them for their willingness to accept this responsibility.
- Have there been times in your life when you felt worthy? When were these?
- Have there been times in your life when you felt unworthy? When were these?
- Do you have any meaningful relationships that are always enjoyable, life-giving, and rewarding?
- When it comes to your spiritual life and your relationship with God, is it easier for you to see God’s spirit accompanying you in the good times or in the difficult and painful periods of your life?
- Do you know people who have given up “normal” family relationships in order to pursue some opportunity or dream?
- How did your parents feel about you moving out of their home? How do you think it compared to the time when they left the home of their parents?
- What are some of the things that have come between you and members of your family or friends?
- Do you think of yourself as one of Jesus’ disciples who have also been sent? How do you hear this instruction from Jesus?
- To whom might Jesus be sending you?
- Mary, Francis, Clare, and many other saints and ordinary people have grown to discover a love of God that is so strong that they were willing to sacrifice their relationships with family and friends to pursue their relationship with God. Can you imagine that kind of passion in your relationship with God?
- Can you talk with God about how you feel about being sent out as one of His disciples?
The reflection and questions are written by Fr. Paul Gallagher,
OFM. They are edited by Sister Anne Marie Lom, OSF and Joe Thiel.