A CHOSEN RACE, A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION!
- A young man who had been raised as an atheist was training to be an Olympic diver. The only religious influence in his life came from his outspoken Christian friend. The young diver never really paid much attention to his friend’s sermons, but he heard them often.
One night the diver went to the indoor pool at the college he attended. The lights were all off, but as the pool had big skylights and the moon was bright, there was plenty of light to practice by. The young man climbed up to the highest diving board and as he turned his back to the pool on the edge of the board and extended his arms out, he saw his shadow on the wall. The shadow of his body in the shape of a cross. Instead of diving, he knelt down and asked God to come into his life. As the young man stood, a maintenance man walked in and turned the lights on. The pool had been drained for repairs.
- I asked God to take away my pain. God said, No. It is not for me to take away, but for you to give it up.
I asked God to make my handicapped child whole. God said, No. Her spirit was whole, her body was only temporary.
I asked God to grant me patience. God said, No. Patience is a by-product of tribulations. It isn’t granted, it is earned.
I asked God to give me happiness. God said, No. I give you blessings. Happiness is up to you.
I asked God to spare me pain. God said, No. Suffering draws you apart from worldly cares and brings you closer to me.
I asked God to make my spirit grow. God said, No. You must grow on your own, but I will prune you to make you fruitful.
I asked for all things that I might enjoy life. God said, No. I will give you life so that you may enjoy all things.
I ask God to help me LOVE others, as much as he loves me. God said… Ahhhh, finally you have the idea.
First Reading: The Liturgy this week instruct us how to follow Jesus, in other words how to be disciples. We’re told that even the most humble among us have a share in the mission Christ gives to His Church. In our own little way we are called to be missionaries and to a holy life.
Second Reading: We are to follow Jesus, each of us taking up our personal cross. That doesn’t mean we will all be asked to suffer a martyr’s death. But each of us is called to self-denial, to the offering of our lives in service of God’s plan. Our baptism calls us away from sin to live a new life in Christ. Consequently, we too must think of yourselves as dead to sin and living for God in Christ Jesus.
Gospel: Jesus spends over a chapter explaining the details of the mission to the disciples.
9:35-37 – Christ tells us to pray for mission workers!
10:5-15 – Christ sends out mission workers!
10:16 – Christ tells us to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves while on mission!
10:26-33 – Christ tells us not to be afraid of persecution while on mission!
Do we love Jesus and his mission more than life itself? More than likely most of us will not be called on to literally die for Jesus. But we need to be willing to die. And we can die daily to our own needs to advance his kingdom. What does this look like?
1. Giving money to our missionaries
2. Serving in the nursery on Sunday mornings so that parents can hear about Jesus. Mentoring a child at Logan elementary!
3. Visiting a friend in the hospital!
4. Taking a neighbor or coworker out to breakfast to tell them about Jesus.
5. Taking time to talk to a non-Christian friend when it is very inconvenient for you. Having an open house around the holidays to build relationships with non Christians.
Jesus is not asking us to do anything he did not do himself. He died literally so that we might live. As we die to our own needs others will live. The mission is more important than peace, family, and life itself! Jesus motivates us by appealing to our self-interest! He says, if you want to find your life you need to lose it. We all want life! True life! Jesus knows this and so he tells us how to find our lives. We find our lives by losing them. In other words, if we spend our lives in pursuit of wealth, power, pleasure, control, and fame we will lose our lives. All these things will elude us! We should know this! When we buy something new the thrill eventually fades. When we go on a nice vacation eventually we get restless or have to come home. When our primary ambition is pursuing the things that this life has to offer we will be crushed with disappointment. Jesus must be elevated to first place in our lives—above even our families.
When we take up our crosses in order to advance God’s kingdom we will truly experience life. Life comes through death! What is Jesus saying in these cryptic verses? He is simply saying this- all those who respond to the ones I send out on mission will be rewarded because ultimately they are responding to me.
1. To receive an apostle is to receive Christ
2. To receive a prophet is to receive Christ
3. To receive a righteous man is to receive Christ
4. To receive little ones- the insignificant members of the kingdom- is to receive Christ
He starts from the greatest and moves to the least.
When we look at the context of the “little ones,” the little ones are Christians who have gone out on mission. Some think the little ones are little children or the poor and helpless but this does not fit the context at all. The little ones are the disciples. They are called little because they are insignificant in the world’s eyes. Those who respond to you when you proclaim the gospel will be blessed. And you will have the incredible blessing of knowing that God is using you. Leading someone to faith in Christ is one of the greatest joys I have ever experienced. This morning if you are not a Christian you need to know that Christ promises to bless and reward you if you respond to his messengers because responding to them is responding to him.
Conclusion: Every Christian is called to be on mission for Jesus. The mission is important and the reward is great –
But FATHER, I’m just a chef
But FATHER, I’m just a student
But FATHER, I’m just a mechanic
But FATHER, I’m just a home school mom.
It does not matter what you do. God has given you the privilege of being on mission with him. It is an amazing mission. We have the privilege of telling people how they can be reconciled to God. Yes, work hard at your job. Be the best you can be at your job. And while you are excelling at your job, be a beacon of light by opening up your mouth and talking about Jesus by your words deeds and action. The mission is too important and the rewards are too great to keep our mouths closed.
Fr. Gaspar Fernandes, OFM Cap.