Gospel Reflection Wednesday 14th Week of Ordinary Time (12 July) – Jesus sends out the Apostles
Fr Paul reads from the Gospel of Matthew (10: 1-7) in which Jesus sends out the twelve apostles to proclaim the kingdom of heaven is close at hand. Fr Paul notes the mission-discourse that we are hearing in Matthew at the moment is the second of Matthew’s five great collections of the sayings and teachings of Jesus. It focuses on the exterior mission of disciples of Jesus, that is the going out and the doing. Later in this Gospel Jesus will have a second set of instructions focusing on the interior life of the community. Historically, this fits into the development of the drama being restricted to the House of Israel, which contrasts with the final mission given to the disciples by the Risen Christ, to make disciples of all the nations (28.19). Fr Paul says that is why we hear it towards the end of this gospel – Jesus’s warning, ‘do not turn your steps to pagan territory and do not enter any Samaritan town’ – he is saying to the disciples stay in Israel at this time. Fr Paul says we hear the names of the disciples and the number of twelve is crucial; The names vary somewhat from list to list, but the number is always twelve. Even when Judas betrays Jesus, a substitute must be found, for the number represents the twelve tribes of Israel (this makes sense of Jesus’s warning not to go outside Israel). The importance of this is that Jesus is conscious of founding a New Israel of which the disciples are to be the leaders. The list of the Twelve is taken from Mark 3.16-19 with some slight adjustments; Controversy has surrounded the first and the last names. Why is Simon Peter described as ‘first’ when Andrew was also called at the same time? It acknowledges that Peter had special authority in the group. The last name is Judas but unlike all the others it has two further descriptions after his name. One is the word Iscariot which denote his place of origin. The other is that it also tells us that Judas is the one to betray Jesus. For our reflection today, Fr Paul invites us to reflect on the question – What is God calling me to go out and do today?