“As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Mt 10:7).
Empowered by Jesus, the Apostles were sent to proclaim that the Kingdom of heaven is at hand, that the God of all creation is present in their midst, and seeks to restore a relationship with his fallen creatures. The Apostles are to continue Jesus’ saving act of healing, restoring, and reconciling humanity’s relationship with God, through word but more so in and through deed.
Salvation history has been experienced through God’s encounter and interaction with individuals. At the appointed time, Jesus was sent to open the doors to a deeper communion with his Father. Jesus devoted himself to people, “accepting them, receiving them into fellowship with him and granting them forgiveness of sins. The power of his affirmation is to be found in his attention to the concrete individual, in particular to the despised, the abused, the sinner, but also involving himself with people in a very personal way… in giving himself away to them” (Gnilka 1997, 111).
We, as the Apostles, are called to do the same. Empowered by Jesus, we are not to bring about some abstract utopian ideal, but we are sent to enter into the chaos of the lives of real, concrete individuals in our midst and on the margins in our own unique and personal way. The Gospel is not just for a select few but for everyone. This is just as true today in our polarized climate of 2022. We need to resist the temptation to be led by our prejudices and pride such that we embrace an, us verses them mentality. For God, there is no us and them.
Just as the sun rises on the good and the bad alike (cf. Mt 5:45), we are to examine ways in which we have contributed to division and separation instead of promoted invitation. May we get in touch with our sorrow for the hurt we have caused others, for our actions and omissions, and for failing to reach out in love. Jesus was sent by his Father and he sends us to proclaim the Gospel. We do so by building relationships in and beyond our comfort zones. We do so when we are more present, accepting, understanding, kind, and forgiving as well as sharing person to person the light, love, mercy, and invitation of fellowship that we have received from Jesus.
Photo: Afternoon last week with Fr. Raul at St Mary’s Catholic Church in Pahokee, FL.
Gnilka, Joachim. Jesus of Nazareth: Message and History. Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 1997.