Fr Roland Agrisola reads and reflects on the Gospel of Matthew (10: 7-15) in which Jesus sends out his apostles to proclaim the kingdom, telling them to take nothing with them, to rely on the generosity of others, and to ‘shake the dust from your feet’ if people choose not to listen.
Fr Roland says the mission of the apostles is to make known by means of words and deeds the closeness of God, his care and compassion for the people. In short, God’s providence.
The apostles have already experienced this care of God by being with Jesus, by responding to the call of the Lord to be his disciples. Now, as apostles they are empowered and sent to share God’s closeness and compassion with others. In effect, they become like our Lord Jesus himself, living instruments, visible means of Divine providence, care, and compassion for the people. In their mission God will also provide for their needs. There will be people who have been touched by God’s grace and be willing to share what they have with the apostles for their upkeep.
The apostles have to learn how to trust in God’s ongoing care for them. Among other things, this instruction of Jesus to his apostles points to the two inseparable aspects of Christian life, namely, receiving and giving. Being a disciple is about receiving God’s gifts for our personal holiness, being an apostle is about giving to others gifts that the Lord has given us for salvation and sanctification of others. There is a saying that we can only give what have. For us Christians, we can only share what we have received from God.
Our Lord Jesus also tells the apostles God’s offer of peace through their ministry is to be received only by those who deserve it. Indeed, God’s grace and his offer of himself, his offer of his guiding strength is for everyone. It is communicated, shared, either through visible means like preaching or through the internal means of grace, or both.
If grace and word is not received either by conscious rejection or unwillingness to repent, God’s word, God’s grace will not bear fruit in a person’s life. Fr Roland reminds us that we are not only disciples, we are apostles, as Pope Francis says, we are missionary disciples.
In closing Fr Roland says, we are invited, therefore, to open ourselves more widely to God’s offer of himself, of his guidance and strength, and other gifts so we may in turn share these with others with generosity.