Messengers Sent

John 13: 16-20
Acts 13: 13-25 / Psa 89

If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.
(John 13:17)

Having received Him we are sent
So that others too may believe.
And from their sins they may repent,
And the Spirit they may receive.

“Amen, amen, I say to you, no slave is greater than his master, nor any messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them. I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But so that the scripture may be fulfilled, “The one who ate my bread has raised his heel against me.” I tell you this now, before it happens, so that when it happens, you may believe that I am He. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me; and whoever receives me receives Him who sent me.” (John 13:16-20)

Reflection

Jesus had just washed the feet of His apostles. What He had done for them was a symbolic act that they would never forget, and with His words, evoke the following messages. First, that they had already been purified. Second, they must now follow His example: “You are blessed if you do them.” Then, in reference to Judas Iscariot, (“I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen”), to love and forgive even those who would betray them: “The one who ate my bread has raised his heel against me.” Jesus quoted a verse from the psalms of King David (Psa 41:10) to let His apostles know that even this betrayal was a fulfillment of a Scriptural prophecy. And finally, so that they would all believe that He was really the Christ sent by God, and that He was in turn sending them forth as His messengers of the Gospel.

Through generations of Christians in Church history, Christ’s message of salvation has been received by all who have embraced the faith, many of whom were not even aware of the great martyrdom that millions suffered for its propagation. Jesus said, “no slave is greater than his master.” None of His followers ever suffered the kind of torment and death that our Savior endured for our sake. But almost all the great saints willingly followed His example, giving up everything, including their lives in order to be sent for the conversion of many. Don’t we often wonder how the saints and martyrs of the Church were able to endure persecution and death for the sake of the Gospel? It was because, as Jesus said, they had received Him and the Holy Spirit, and no power on earth could make them renounce their faith.

Jesus tells us, as He told His apostles then when He chose them for their mission, that we are no longer part of this world but of God’s kingdom. “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will also keep yours.” (John 15:20) Today we no longer have to suffer and die for our faith as the early followers of Jesus did, but our Lord expects us to live our lives with the same commitment to the ideals of His Gospel message. How? Simply by obeying His words: “I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good” (Matt 5:43). Let us love those who hate us; they help us become Christ’s modern martyrs.

Help us, Lord God, to see our enemies and friends who betray us in a different light, in a way that will make us forgive and love them as You have commanded. For only in this way can we be counted as blessed. Amen.

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