The Good News verses the fake news – Friday, 14th Week in ordinary time – Mt 10:16-23
We are in the second of the five discourses of Matthew and I am making an artificial separation in chapter ten for the sake of study. We are in the second of the three part missionary discourse. The first part was the commission to mission, now we are in the consequence of a mission and tomorrow we will look at the courage to mission.
My dear friend, the late Fr Larry Pereira, always said that Christianity is not for ‘namby-pambies’. The words have more than just a nice ring to it for it conveys a truth. It is dangerous when we propagate personal devotions to Christ over the tougher message of the Gospel.
Let me give you an example and please don’t get me wrong, I have no disrespect for the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus or any other devotion. I grew up with this devotion and still have devotion but this devotion has always been portrayed as ‘sweet’, ‘merciful’ and for ‘namby-pambies’. I have yet to hear, on the feast day, a homily that challenges us to follow the Lord’s heart of justice, suffering in mission or one that confronts evil. Somehow the devotion has always been presented as ‘sweet’.
If we are truly to follow the heart and mind of Jesus then the road is narrow and less trodden. The Gospel of today is a fine example of what a Christian is called to. Perhaps in some parts of the world or country, we don’t experience what is described in today’s Gospel; the flogging, hatred, being put to death and the terror of having to flee your home. But that means one of the two things; either we don’t live in that part of the world where this happens or we don’t go out in mission in our part of the ‘safe’ world.
The apostles did not even need a choice. They were burning with passion for the Lord. Not only had they been given great authority they were also given the consequences of that authority and none of those consequences were ‘pretty’.
Think about it, would you exchange even for a moment, the power to raise someone from the dead (verse 10: 7) in exchange for the possibility of being flogged and put to death ( 10: 17 and 21). I guess each one would respond to this quite differently but it certainly does not sound like an appealing bargain.
Mathew was reflecting the situation that the early Christians actually experienced, when he wrote the Gospel around 80- 90 AD. His community was barred from attending the synagogue where the Jews went to and that is why in verse 17 he says “in their synagogues”; them being the Jews. Historically the Christians did have to flee their homes (verse 23). Eusebius the historian tells us that Christians did flee to Pella in the Decapolis (ten cities). So what Matthew penned was not some possibility but a lived reality of the early Church.
The Church today seems to have a certain disconnect because we are perhaps more connected to rituals and devotions. In order to be on fire with the word of God, to be connected to His message and to reject a ‘namby-pamby’ style of Christianity, requires us to be reconnected to His Word in the Sacred Scriptures.
We glibly pass on fake news via social media without verifying the truth behind it but are afraid to spread the truth about His Word. Perhaps that is our mission today. Pass on the Good News, stop spreading the fake new.
The words of St Jerome ring true. “Love the Holy Scriptures and wisdom will love you. Love wisdom and she will keep you safe. Honour wisdom and she will embrace you.”
Fr Warner D’Souza
Written with malice to none
References from the JBC.