Isaiah 30: 19-21, 23-26
Matthew 9: 35-10:1, 5a, 6-8
The opening sentence in our Gospel reading today reveals much about Jesus. Different bibles use different translations: Jesus went around or about or through or throughout all the cities and villages in the area. I like the New American Standard version that states: Jesus was going through all the cities and villages. The word "go’" is reminiscent of the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20. "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded." What Jesus will ask of his disciples is what he was doing himself.
The trust to go forth into the world is so characteristic of Jesus and the Great Commission. It is a trust to go into new and perhaps uncomfortable places. It can be easier just to play computer games, watch sports or movies on TV or read a book than to reach out to others in need. I think about people who go to soup kitchens, volunteer at their parish, go to visit the sick in a hospital or nursing home, go to check on an elderly neighbor, drive the car to help someone without a car go to the grocery store or the bank or post office.
I can imagine it was not always comfortable for Jesus to go into villages and meet people he had never met before, people who didn’t know him and might be suspicious of this street preacher. But Jesus went to these new places and talked with strangers. He taught, preached and healed. We are called to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. If you don’t think you are smart enough to be a teacher, gifted enough to be a preacher or anointed enough to be a healer, then follow the injunction attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, "Preach the Gospel always. If necessary, use words." Let you actions do the teaching, preaching and healing. Look around you and see the needs of the people, let your heart be moved with compassion as was the heart of Jesus.
As you "wait and watch" during Advent, open your heart to God and allow God to speak to you and move your heart to respond to a particular need. As you think about gifts for your family and friends, take the time to reflect about how God wants you to be a gift to someone in need. Don’t try to imagine some spectacular way of responding. Let you action be a simple, often hidden, way to respond to someone in need this Advent.
Fr. Don Webber, C.P., is Provincial Superior of Holy Cross Province and resides in Chicago.