Winning Souls for the Kingdom

Matthew 10:7-13
Acts 11: 21b-26,13:1-3 / Ps 98

Without cost you have received, without cost you are to give.
(Matthew 10: 8)

We’re not asked to give up everything,
Or be martyrs in some foreign land,
The Word Jesus just wants us to bring:
‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand!’

(Jesus said to the apostles,) “As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons. Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give. Do not take gold or silver or copper for your belts; no sack for the journey, or a second tunic, or sandals, or walking stick. The laborer deserves his keep. Whatever town or village you enter, look for a worthy person in it, and stay there until you leave. As you enter a house, wish it peace. If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; if not, let your peace return to you.” (Matthew 10:7-13)

Reflection

The kingdom of heaven was indeed at hand, as our Lord Jesus commanded His apostles to proclaim. God incarnate was walking in their midst, but the Jews were not aware of it. So He commissioned them to perform miraculous deeds so that those who witnessed them would believe, repent of their sins, and turn a new leaf. Having received such awesome powers from Jesus for free, no remuneration was needed when they healed the afflicted, raised the dead or cast out evil spirits. Winning souls for the kingdom of heaven was more than enough reward for their efforts. This reminds us that the most precious thing in our life was given to us without cost. We received our faith from our parents, which was nurtured in our Catholic school, and fortified by the sacraments of our Church and the influence of our community. Therefore, without cost we are to give. It is only fair that we pass on to others what God has given to us … which we did not even deserve.

Jesus told His disciples not to take any money in their mission, so that they could put their trust completely in God for all their needs. Like the apostles, Jesus wants us to keep our focus on the essential, and not be distracted by material possessions or obsessions in this world. He said, “Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and these things will be given you besides” (Mt.6:32-33). Many years ago, when our community was tasked to open an outreach in the fair city of Gen. Santos (Pacquiaoland), we put our full trust in this Gospel passage found in the book of Matthew, and without any fixed budget, proceeded to hold a breakfast meeting at a local restaurant. More than 70 first-timers attended, encouraging our mission team to hold our first Christian Life Program a few weeks later. We never worried about where the money for expenses would be coming from, but for three years our mission team was able to conduct and sustain several CLPs until that distant community of renewed Christians was finally able to hold formation programs on their own.

The gift of Faith is indeed the key that opens the door of the kingdom of heaven. As Jesus said, all things are possible for those who believe. But we still have to pass through the “narrow gate and difficult road” of life to reach that door. And according to our Lord, “Only a few are those who find it.” (Mt.7:14) How true His words are. Out of a hundred guests that we had invited to our breakfast fellowships over a period of 7 months, only 32 candidates had signed up for our new Chapter’s first Christian Life Program. Six have already dropped out, and we hope and pray that the remaining 26 can sustain this 9-Saturday seminar.

Lord, the trials that we face in our mission to proclaim Your Word are nothing compared to the hardships and torment that Your saints suffered for the kingdom. May their example serve as a clear challenge for us to endure what difficulties or “shame” we may have to face when we give witness to You and the Gospel. Amen.

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