July 10, 2019
(St. Augustine Zhao Rong, Priest
and Companions, Martyrs in China)
. . . all the world came to Joseph to obtain rations of grain, for famine had gripped the whole world. Gn_41:55-57;42:5-7a,17-24a
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.'” Mt_10:1-7
If you ever got lost, beloved, you’d know what a terrifying experience it is. The Jewish religious leaders were not the lost sheep of Israel that Jesus was referring to. But they were the ones who were supposed to be gathering the lost. Instead they were scattering them by their overly strict and selfish laws. They were the ones who made, ‘being lost’ even more terrifying, because, not only did the Jews fear the ruthless Romans, but they couldn’t even trust their own religious shepherds.
You see, if God had hand-picked Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and their descendants as His special chosen ones, then “Why,” the lost might ask, “would He allow so much suffering?” Sure, they heard all those promises of a Savior, a Messiah, but where was he? And when that Messiah finally did come, the people were so shell-shocked numb from all the persecution, the bad leaders, and the imposter messiahs, that they were skeptical about who, if anyone, they could believe.
This was why so much of what Jesus did and taught was in answer, in conformance to – all that the prophets in the Sacred Scriptures had predicted. It was so that the people, who knew those Scriptures by heart, would have a basis, a reference point to truly believe in Jesus . . .
Things like having 12-Apostles – to serve as the new 12-Tribes of Israel.
Things like healing the sick, dispelling demons, and raising the dead – just as Isaiah prophesied.
Things like feeding the hungry – just as Joseph and the prophet Elijah did.
Things like living in the same poverty as the people he led did;
Like suffering just as they did – and even worse.
And like forgiving their mistakes when they repented – just as Joseph did, just as our priests do in the person of Christ, and just as we are expected to do with one another.
Jesus sent His 12-special disciples out on a Recovery Mission. It was a mission to find the lost, and to show them the way back Home to God.
You see, brothers and sisters, the roadmap is right here, in our own hearts. For just as Jesus said, “The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.” And all we have to do is follow!
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