The Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
[Scripture Readings: Ex 19:2-6a; Rom 5:6-11; Mt 9:36-10:8]
A theme in this morning’s readings that would be difficult to miss is the demonstration of God’s gratuitous love. For no merit of theirs God brought the Israelites out of Egypt and supported them through their sojourn in the wilderness. He called them to be his own special possession, a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. He asked in return only that they be faithful to his covenant, which more often than not meant sharing his love with their fellow Israelites. When Israel was unfaithful God did not revoke his invitation. On the contrary, he extended it to all people, including ourselves. Christ died for all people in their alienation from God in order to reconcile all people with God and to bring all people into God’s kingdom. Christ offered his life in sacrifice for us so that we might enter into his life.
In return he only asks that we share his gift to us with those we meet. When Jesus saw the helplessness and weariness of the crowds he called his disciples and gave them a share in his work. The particular ways in which each of us will share in Jesus’ work will differ of course, just as the ways the disciples shared in Jesus work differed for them. Nevertheless in some way we are all called to combat evil, to heal, to announce the reality of God’s reign, to bring reconciliation to others.
Our model is Christ himself. Just as Jesus in himself was the manifestation of God’s love, we are called to be the manifestation of Christ today. Although that might seem to be a task that is beyond us and it is certainly a task we cannot accomplish on our own, if we follow in the way that Christ has shown it is not impossible. There are many summaries of how we are to do this. We are to love others as ourselves. We are to treat others as we would want to be treated. Like the Good Samaritan we are to offer assistance to those in need, not on the basis of our likes and dislikes. St. Paul tells the Corinthians to be patient and kind, not to be jealous or boastful, not to insist on their own way or be irritable or resentful. The lists can be multiplied. What strikes me about them is that they present us with opportunities that are part of our everyday lives. We do not need to go off somewhere else to find the kingdom of God. We do not need to be eloquent preachers to proclaim its nearness. For most of us our proclamation of the nearness of the kingdom of God will be more by our behavior than by our words. Jesus Christ manifested God’s reign in his presence. As members of his body we manifest Christ’s presence today.
But how can we give what we have not received? There will be times when we will feel troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd. We are called not only to give God’s love to those we meet, we are also call to receive God’s love from those we meet. In humility we receive without cost; in gratitude we give without cost. All this is possible because we have been reconciled with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.