Mathew 9:35 – 10:1,5,6-8
Today’s Gospel presents a very touching scene: Jesus moves among the towns and villages, teaching, proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom, curing disease and illness. To underscore just how personally involved Jesus was in this ministry, Matthew writes that Jesus’ "heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd." The troubled, the abandoned, the lonely, the wanderers…Jesus had come into the world as a gift to such people — people like ourselves. Jesus’ knew the depths of their hearts…and ours!
Afterwards Jesus spoke to his disciples about the abundant harvest of souls, and he expanded his outreach by calling his disciples to share his authority and help carry on his mission: to make the proclamation that "the Kingdom of heaven is at hand" and follow it with action on behalf of those in need. The final words cited in today’s Gospel selection are especially encouraging: "without cost you have received; without cost you are to give." God has freely given us faith in Jesus, and this gift is not to be hoarded but rather freely shared…shared with the same intensity that "moved" Jesus.
The gift of faith is so different than the material gifts that draw most attention during this Christmas season. For example, if you give someone a gift of money, you necessarily have less money yourself. However, if you give someone the gift of faith, you not only do not have less — you actually have more! In fact, to grow in our Christian life, we must share our faith with others…families, coworkers, neighbors, even the "stranger" we meet as we do our holiday shopping. Our words, our good example, our interest in people – arising from our faith — speak volumes and make real the person of Jesus who loves us unconditionally. Faith shared is faith on-the-grow.
Advent is a time of hope, of anticipation, growth, and celebration – the gift of Jesus’ life and love are so real these days as Advent moves us into the celebration of Christmas 2010! May we make our own Jesus’ clarion call: the Kingdom is at hand! May our hearts be moved to greater care for our sisters and brothers, especially those most in need.
Fr. John Schork, C.P. is the local leader of the Passionist community in Louisville, Kentucky.