First Week of Advent
Gospel: Mt 9: 35 -– 10: 1. 5a. 6-8
Jesus went around to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom, and curing every disease and illness. At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, the harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.” Then he summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out and to cure every disease and every illness. Jesus sent out these Twelve after instructing them thus, “Go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons. Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.”
GIVE FREELY: The exchange of gift is quite common in the season of Christmas. It is beautiful to see that the sharing of gifts is done mostly without expectation. Jesus gave freely the gifts of announcing the gospel and healing the sick to the disciples. He has commanded them to give freely. Today in the church we do not see these two gifts accompanying each other. Jesus also says that the laborer deserves the upkeep (Mt 10, 10). It means that the ministers of the gospel need to do the mission freely. However, the community has the obligation to attend to their upkeep. In such situation the ministers and faithful can experience more joy in giving than receiving (Acts 20, 35). Let us give freely for the upkeep of the needy as well as the ministers in the church.
PRAYER: Lord! Guard me from avarice and make me experience the joy of giving.
SPEAKING WITH HIS HANDS: He sends out his close ones! They have a mission, of allaying fears, recovering the lost and restoring the hurt. He himself was at it. Here is a God who busies himself at the uplift of his people. Isaiah says: adversity may be your daily diet, but God is close behind showing your way ahead (Is 30: 21). This is the image of a God who binds up and nurses you. A mandate to proclaim the good news is entrusted to them. But it is not just an oral proclamation.: what follows is a series of things to be accomplished along. Jesus takes them as partners in his efforts. It comes across as a zeal for God’s house, a thirst to build God’s temple. The task today is nothing different. A Christian is called to partner him in this role. Do we shy away from this noble task? Do we tend to take the easy way out? Proclamation we do, announcing God’s Gods kingdom we do. But unfortunately do we end up with just a proclamation with the mouth? Let’s try to impart that golden touch: touch that heals, reassures and builds humans.
THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS AT HAND: This is the core message of Jesus in all the Gospels. We keep hearing it particularly in the beginning of the synoptic Gospels. In the season of Advent, this is an important message. Yes, Christmas is at hand, but it is not just that. What does this expression mean? The Kingdom of heaven is at hand because Jesus here. The Kingdom of Heaven in Matthew is the same as the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is the reign of God; where God is. God reigns in and through the person of Jesus. You might remember in the baptism of Jesus the heavens broke open (Mt 3:16-17). The abyss between earth and heaven, humans and God, has been bridged in the revelation of God. So, Christmas is not just a celebration of the historical birth of Jesus – yes, it is, but it is also an opportunity to remind ourselves of the reign of God in the God-made-flesh! Let our preparations towards Christmas be a preparation of our hearts to accept the reign of God in our lives.