When Judas cast out satan – Thursday, 14th week in ordinary time – Matthew 10:7-15
The apostles, now having been chosen, are sent on mission. Their mandate comes from the authority of Jesus himself. What strikes us right away is that the mission begins with the task of proclamation. (verse7) and later in verse eight they are also told of the mighty works that they were to perform.
Proclamation is key to ministry. Sadly, a poster that announces a well know ‘healer’ will draw crowds that are packed to the rafters; a Bible class may only have a few souls in attendance. The principal task of the apostles and the Church is to proclaim the Good News. But Jesus also shares great power with these mostly unlettered simple twelve.
I can’t even imagine the buzz that the twelve must have caused where ever they went. Jesus gave them authority over unclean spirits and to cast then out (10:1) to cure the sick, to raise the dead, cleanse the leper and cast out demons. He gave them the same power that he had exercised in chapter eight and nine. Imagine Galilee abuzz; a child raised from the dead by Peter, a leper healed by John, a sick woman cured by Bartholomew and Judas Iscariot casting out a demon.
Did that last name make you sit up wondering if you read right? Did Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Our Lord, really cast a demon out? Well, the Bible does not say that explicitly but it does say that ALL the twelve apostles were given these powers equally so we can’t rule out that Judas Iscariot did not cast a demon or even raise some one from the dead. Yet, a man to whom great authority was given by Our Lord could also end up being his betrayer. St Augustine cautions us all when he wrote, “there go I but for the love of God.”
The text also tells us that Jesus gives his apostles several instructions. When read together, the instructions have a single purpose; any minister who is called to service cannot be encumbered by baggage. The call to mission must be marked with a sense of faith in the providence of God. While money, provisions and several sets of clothing would make the journey comfortable they would also be the cause of distraction and delay. The one sent out must mark his journey with unwavering trust in God.
Finally, having arrived at the place of mission, the apostle is called to do due diligence with the residence he adopts. Jesus says “find out who is worthy” in the town and then stay with them. Interestingly Jesus stayed and visited several homes during his ministry. This also included the homes of tax collectors and sinners, the home of Simon the Pharisee, the home of Martha and Mary and even the home of Zacchaeus the chief tax collector. When we use the word ‘worthy’ we get a sense that the house chosen to live in should be one of good standing. That may not exactly be mind of Jesus. Clearly, what Jesus did not want was for his apostles to go around shopping for the best residence within the community to live in.
Jesus wants the apostles to acknowledge the kindness and the hospitality that they have received. Jesus suggests that a gift could be given to express their thanks. This gift is not some fancy car or a better job for the son of the family but rather he suggests a spiritual gift be given. Jesus said, “If the house is worthy let your peace come upon it.” Interestingly the gift of peace is not the gift of a conflict free home, rather the gift of peace is the gift that helps the members of the family face every storm that breaks upon it and face it with the grace and faith.
But not all accept the Good News. To those who reject the Good News as preached by the apostles, Our Lord suggests a sign of rejection as a warning of what is to come to them. Such will be their rejection that not even the dust from that town should cling to the sandals of the apostles. Sodom and Gomorrah would have it easier on judgment day than those who spurn the Good News of Jesus.
We have got used to embracing the idea of Jesus who is sweet and mild; but today, Jesus tells us what he intends to do when he loses his mind