In a broader sense this command is directed at all of us….!


 

Courage! The Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand.

Boldly go and proclaim that the Kingdom of heaven is at hand. It is within our reach at this very moment. It is so close that if we took half a mind to do so we could reach out and touch it. How sad, then, that so few of us make that effort. We view that Kingdom as a long journey — far away and hard to see. We are caught up in the storms of the day — the trials of life. But how much easier might those trials be, if we availed ourselves of all the help that could come from just being present to the joy of the Kingdom? Our troubles would not go away — we would have them still, but we would have a companion, a comforter, one who would help us bear them and lighten them and even, perhaps, help us see how those troubles are, in fact, a gift of sorts. Our trials do strengthen us. We may not like them as we go through them, but like any exercise, any exertion, we are strengthened by them. And this strengthening is not for us alone; we are made strong to help our brothers and sisters endure the great weights that bear down on them as well.

So, in the midst of our trials, let us strive to remember that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. And remembering, let us ask God the Father, through His Son and with the Holy Spirit, to let us see it, be present to it, and receive strength from it to support us as we labor here.

“Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give”, Jesus said to His disciples. What they have received from Jesus they must now pass on to others without expecting a favor in return, whether it be in form of a gift or payment. They must show by their attitude that their first interest is in serving God, not receiving material gain. They were to announce that God’s Kingdom was coming into existence among them. They were to give freely of their gifts and not charge for their efforts, as the other itinerant wonder workers of the day would have done. Both this free healing and the healing itself were intended as signs of God’s Kingdom. Things are different when the world runs according to God’s ways, and that difference was to be evident in how the disciples went about their task. They must do their work, not for what they can get out of it, but for what they can give freely to others, without expecting special privileges or reward.  “Poverty of spirit” frees us from greed and preoccupation with possessions and makes ample room for God’s provision.  The Lord wants His disciples to be dependent on Him and not on themselves.

Secondly, Jesus said: the worker deserves his sustenance. Here we see a double-truth: the worker of God must not be overly-concerned with material things, but the people of God must never fail in their duty to give the worker of God what he or she needs to sustain themselves in the Lord’s service. Do you pray for the work of the gospel and do you support it with your material and financial resources? Jesus ends His instructions with a warning: If people reject God’s invitation and refuse His word, then they bring judgment and condemnation on themselves. When God gives us His word there comes with it the great responsibility to respond.  Indifference will not do. We are either for or against God in how we respond to His word. God gives us His word that we may have life – abundant life – in Him.

In a broader sense this command is directed at all of us. Our special talents are free gifts. They are there not to make us feel good about ourselves, but to be used for the benefit of others.

Although most of us worked pretty hard to develop the skills and abilities that we possess, as well as for the money we earn today, it is easy to forget that the very capacity to work, the chance to better ourselves and to learn – even the aptitude or desire to do so – are gifts that we didn’t create. Yes, we need to respond, to use the gifts we’ve been given.

But, at base, everything remains a gift. Most basically, our very life is itself a gift. When we wake up in the morning we should thank God for making us, for holding us in existence, for saving us; We should ask how we can use this gift of life to help others. And when we fall asleep at night we should thank God for sustaining us through the day, and ask whether we have done enough. The answer will almost always be “No, not nearly enough.” But the more we put on the mind of Christ, the closer we will come. For then, as St. Paul says: “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”

 

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