In the gospels read at Mass this week, from the 10th chapter of Matthew, Jesus instructs his disciples and sends them on their mission. His words are important because he calls us also to follow him. We share the mission of his disciples, we have a mission, together and as individuals.
Our life is a journey and a ministry we share with Jesus. When he sent out his disciples, he asked them to do what he did in his ministry in Galilee. His Galilean mission was the pattern for the mission of his disciples.
His invitation is so simple. “Jesus summoned his Twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out and to cure every disease and every illness.” (Matthew 10, 1)
Jesus empowered his disciples; they don’t go without his grace. He empowers his disciples to lift the yoke of evil from themselves and others, to raise up hope in a struggling world. He calls each by name. Peter, James, John…. Each with a mission to fulfill. Then, “Jesus sent out these Twelve after instructing them thus, “Do not go into pagan territory or enter a Samaritan town. Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” (Matthew 10, 10)
For the time being, they’re not to go into pagan territory or Samaritan towns, but to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel.” There’s no elaborate timetable, no definite assignments. There is no economic security or assurance they’ll be received well or their mission successful. Jesus’ instructions are general and imprecise.
As he instructs his disciples, Jesus says repeatedly “Don’t be afraid.” There’s plenty in these instructions to make us afraid. No promises of power or success. We’re sent “like lambs among wolves.”
Instead of a long term program, it seems to me our mission is best seen facing the day at hand. We pray for daily bread. Something must be done each day, something that adds to a picture we still don’t see. Let’s face the day. “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.”