Hos 11:1-4, 8c-9 / Ps 80:2- 3,15-16
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 message Jesus wants us to bring
Is His kingdom that is now at hand.
(Jesus said to the twelve:) “As you go, make this proclamation, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons. Without cost you have received, without cost you are to give. Take no gold, nor silver, nor copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, or a second tunic, or sandals, or walking stick. The laborer deserves his keep. Whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it, and stay with him until you depart. As you enter the house, salute it. And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And if any one will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. Truly, I say to you, it shall be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town. (Matthew 10:7-15)
Isn’t it amazing that the most precious thing in life was given to us for free? We learned about our faith first from our parents, then it was nurtured in school by our religion and theology teachers, fortified by the sacraments of the Church, and finally employed in the evangelization programs of our community. Thus, “without cost we are to give.” In simple parlance, we pass on to others what God has given to us which we did not even deserve. The apostles had received such awesome powers from Jesus that no remuneration was needed when they healed the afflicted, raised the dead or cast out evil spirits.
What we have received however, is only the privilege and not the prize. And that one does not come without a price. Our faith is indeed a great privilege because it is the key that will open the door of heaven. 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) Why? Because only a few are bold enough to acknowledge Jesus before others (Mt.10:32). He said, “Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of when He comes in His glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels” (Lk.9:26). So why are a lot of Catholics timid about their faith? Why are we hiding from our friends what we should be crying out on the rooftops? St. Paul said, “If we deny Him, He will deny us” (2Tim.2:12). And he proclaimed his faith in Christ to the point of chains and martyrdom. But as this Apostle to the Gentiles said, the Word of God would not be chained. From his and the other saints’ pains and martyrdom, the Gospel of Jesus Christ spread throughout the western world, conquering even the once pagan imperial Rome.
As Jesus told His disciples, we must not worry about provisions in the mission, but put our trust completely in God for all our needs. Jesus wants us to keep our focus on the essential, and not be distracted by our 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 all these things will be given you besides” (Mt.6:32-33). Neither should we concern ourselves about who would receive the message that we bring. When we shared our life testimony in Panabo (Davao del Norte) Outreach last Saturday, the owner of the breakfast venue waited for us at the exit to thank us “for the interesting story of your life.” He told us it was only his second time to attend the breakfast, but we believe he would surely become a regular member soon.
Lord Jesus, we know that we are not sent to proclaim the Gospel in the same way that You sent Your apostles. But the hardships and torment that they suffered for God’s kingdom 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. Thank You, Lord, for their example. Amen.
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