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The Kingdom of Heaven Is at Hand
Wednesday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Jesus summoned his Twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out and to cure every disease and every illness. The names of the Twelve Apostles are these: first, Simon called Peter, and his brother Andrew; James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew, Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddeus; Simon the Cananean, and Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus. 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.’”
Opening Prayer: Lord, place in my heart the fervent desire to be one of your faithful disciples. Allow me, by faith, to walk with you, learn from you, pray with you, and be your companion. Place in me the desire to do your work, wherever that work needs to be done: in my home, in my workplace, in my daily routines, and in encounters with your “lost sheep.” Bless and protect all your disciples with your love. Amen.
- Honor Roll: In the Gospel read yesterday, Jesus said he would need “workers” for the “harvest.” Today, we see the beginnings of the early Church, those first workers—the disciples listed by name. We should aspire to see our name included on that sacred roll call! Does the world appear different today than the world surrounding those first disciples, two thousand years ago? Yes. Are the challenges to the faith very different? Not really. Then as now, there were pagans (who worshiped false gods) and Samaritans (who differed with the Jews on a number of religious issues). But Jesus advised his disciples, and advises us, to go first to those who are closest. For the disciples, that meant the “lost sheep of Israel.” For us, that means our families, our friends, our neighbors.
- We Do Not Go Alone: Notice among the roster that there were brothers and men from several walks of life. Jesus united these disciples, in spite of their varied backgrounds, or perhaps because of their varied backgrounds, with a common purpose. That purpose was nothing more nor less than the proclamation of the Gospel. Like the disciples, we should seek out the companionship of other faithful souls to sustain us on our journey. If we have already found mission partners, we thank God for them. If we are still seeking, we take that request to the Lord in prayer. As he provided for his disciples, so he will provide for us.
- The Kingdom Is at Hand: Think of objects that, in our daily lives, we cannot be without. Cell phone? Keys? Water? Rarely would we leave our homes without these objects. Jesus tells his disciples that the Kingdom of Heaven–eternity with the Lord–is at hand. It is right here, right now. Eternity does not begin when we leave this life—it has already begun, and Jesus longs to be a part of every moment of our eternal lives. “Begin now to be what you will be hereafter” (St. Jerome).
Conversing with Christ: Lord, quiet my noisy life that I might hear your call to me. Am I ready to be your disciple? What work do you have for me to do? Who will accompany me? Are there saints who have paved the way for me? Increase in me a devotion to all your disciples, those heroes of the faith who can lead me to you.
Resolution: Lord, by your grace, I will strive to seek out the “lost sheep.” I will offer them your Kingdom, reminding them that you are always near.
For Further Reflection: St. John of the Cross reminds us of Jesus’ words from the Gospel of Luke: “‘Whoever does not renounce all that the will possesses, cannot be my disciple.’ This statement is clear, for the doctrine that the Son of Man came to teach is contempt for all things so that we may receive the gift of God’s Spirit. As long as people fail to rid themselves of these possessions, they are incapable of receiving God’s Spirit in pure transformation.” What do you hold “at hand”? Is it the Kingdom of Heaven?
Dorothy Warner is a writer living in the Washington, D.C., area. When not engaged in writing, artisanal baking, volunteering, or gardening, she can be found working for a technology company or spending time with her husband and family, and all their pets.