A call, its consequence and the courage – Saturday, 14th week in ordinary time – Mathew 10:24-33
We strive to be better than the best. But what happens when you already have the best to emulate? In that case you just follow the leader! Jesus is the Master and he is the teacher in the text of today. As disciples and slaves (doulos is the word in Greek) we can’t get better than the standards he has set. So, we should not be surprised that walking in Jesus’ footsteps will only take us where his journey ended; the cross.
We are in the second of the five discourses found in the Gospel of Matthew. The mission discourse sees Jesus appoint the twelve and then he sends them out in mission. But Good News and especially THE Good News is followed by bad news. The bad news is that a Christian will face the storms of persecution for actively making the choice to follow the Lord.
Jesus’ opening lines in today’s Gospel is to be read tongue in cheek. If they crucified the master, why would you expect them to glorify you? Jesus has laid down the call to mission, he has laid down the consequences of mission but he also gives us the courage to face that mission. His promise was that he would never leave or forsake us.
Already, he has told the disciples that they need not be afraid of what they should say when dragged before governors and kings. The power of the Holy Spirit will give them the words by which they will witness to their lives and perhaps even witness by their death. Knowing how daunting that would sound, Jesus reiterates his words of comfort, not once but thrice; “have no fear.”
Jesus’ call to have no fear comes from the assurance that he is in charge of everything and of every moment of our life. If his eye is on the sparrow then his eye is definitely watching over each of us. St Paul, in the letter to the Romans, chapter 8:35 says, “who then shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation? or distress? or famine? or nakedness? or danger? or persecution? or the sword?” St Paul was suggesting the obvious; with Christ with us, why should we be afraid….so bring it on!
The choice we make for Jesus is always going to be divisive; not because Christ is divisive but that the choices made by a Christian go against the values of the world. When we hold a mirror up to sin then sin does not want to be exposed; it fights back with more falsehood. Christ came to be the prince of peace yet that peace is not the absence of strife; it is the presence of God in our strife, it is the assurance of God in our persecution. Peace does not come easy, ironically it has to be ‘fought for’!
The choice that we make for Jesus is a tough call. It sets us in opposition to the ways of government, family, friends and even those who chose to deceive the followers of Christ with false or compromised doctrine and personal agendas of power. It does not matter what colour habit or skull cap you wear, it matters what colour you heart is and I pray that our hearts are not black like the betrayer of Christ.
Loving Christ means loving him more than anyone else even if that excludes loving father and mother and everything and everybody we know. Loving Christ is to take up THE cross and not some trivial issues in our life which we magnify as OUR cross.
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