Today’s Gospel: Matthew 10:1-7
In today’s Gospel, Jesus summons 12 men to be His Apostles. The word “Apostle” means “to send forth,” which is exactly what Jesus does. He “gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out and to cure every disease and every illness.”
What I find especially interesting in today’s Gospel is the last few verses. Jesus tells the Apostles to first go to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Even though Jesus came for all people, Jew and non-Jew alike, He commissions His Apostles to first reach out to those who are Jewish. Why does Jesus do this?
As I reflect upon this, my thoughts bring me to the New Evangelization, which invites Catholics to really get to know their faith in order to be able to share that faith with others. In the New Evangelization, we are not teaching anything new. Rather, we have a new opportunity to re-evangelize ourselves as well as those who have been baptized but who may not truly know the Catholic faith. The New Evangelization calls us to focus on the “lost sheep” in our own Catholic Church. Perhaps it is a family member who has stopped going to Mass, a Catholic neighbor who misunderstands a certain teaching of the Catholic faith, or a friend who has left the Catholic Church to be part of another denomination. The New Evangelization is an invitation by Jesus to bring those people back into the sheepfold, so that His Church might be strengthened and unified.
Just like Jesus summons the Apostles to first go to those “lost sheep of the house of Israel,” He wants us to re-evangelize ourselves, our family, and our friends first. He wants us to start with Catholics who have already been baptized and even sacramentalized. This means that we start small, within our own families and communities. Because only when Catholics know the faith and are unified in proclaiming it can we extend our reach further out to those who may not know Christ at all.
The first mission that Jesus sends His Apostles on is not half-way around the world. He starts them out on a very small, but essential, mission to evangelize their own families and communities within the house of Israel. Likewise, He calls us to do the same for our families and friends. And sometimes, we even have to begin with ourselves.
Are there areas of the Catholic faith that you could know better? How can you learn more about the teachings of the Church? Is there someone in your life who you could share your faith with? What is one simple thing you could do to share the joy of the Gospel with him or her?
Thank You, Lord, for summoning the 12 Apostles to share the Good News with the “lost sheep of the house of Israel” and eventually the entire world. Thank You for the apostolic succession that gives us an unbroken lineage from the first Apostles all the way to Pope Francis and our bishops. Give our leaders the grace, strength, humility, and love that they need to shepherd us toward You. Give us what we need to truly know our faith in order to share it with others. Amen.
We thank our friends at The Word Among Us for providing our gospel reflection team with copies of Abide In My Word 2015: Mass Readings at Your Fingertips. To pray the daily gospels with this wonderful resource, visit The Word Among Us.
Copyright 2015 Sarah Damm