These twelve men were sent out by Jesus with the following instructions: “Do not go to any Gentile territory or any Samaritan towns. Instead you are to go to the lost sheep of the people of Israel.
Matthew 10: 5 -6
This instruction of Jesus seems so surprising, that some people believed that these words were put into Jesus’ mouth, by those who wanted to keep the Gospel for the Jews. Because they are so unlike the mind of Jesus, it is claimed that no one could have invented them. He must have said it, so there must be some explanation.
We can say that it was not a permanent instruction. In the last chapter of his Gospel, Matthew records Jesus’ final instruction to his disciples – “Go, then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples…..”
Perhaps Jesus was wanting to give the Jews, God’s special people, the first chance to respond to the Gospel.
He might also have been wanting to start the disciples off with a less difficult task – going to Galilee, an area and a people with which they were already familiar. Good leaders will limit their objectives according to the resources available.
There’s a message here for the Church and for us as individuals. As we look around our parish, our country and our world, we can see so many things crying out to be done. The temptation can be to try to do everything at once, so that we end up doing none of them very well. The same can be true of our personal lives.
As we come out of lockdown, it feels like a new beginning. We are told that things will be different. How true will that be for the Church and for you and me?
Living God, we thank you that your love includes people of every race and nation and that your Kingdom is for all. You have called us to share in your transforming work. Guide us to find the areas where you want us to serve. Amen.
Use this time to think about what we do as a Church and how we are involved as individuals, in work, church, community and family. Will it be back to ‘business as usual’? Will it mean taking on additional tasks? Will it involve starting new activities? Will it mean giving up some of the things we have always done, in order to make space for new opportunities?