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The problem with dreaming of preaching to the ends of the earth

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Fr. Luigi Maria Epicoco - published on 07/06/22

The Gospel gives us the rather unexpected recommendation not to start with those who are far away, but with those who are close to us.

Today’s readings can be found here.

Matthew 10:1-7

Reflection

And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every infirmity. The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zeb’edee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

These twelve Jesus sent out, charging them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And preach as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’”

“He called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every infirmity.” Giving ‘authority’ means giving someone a capacity, a chance to do something. It is not about granting power, but about serving.

The disciples have the capacity to set people free, to relieve, to heal, to support. Too often we Christians have understood authority in worldly terms. On the contrary, the more ‘authority’ one has been granted, the more capacity to do good.

Secondly, today’s Gospel reminds us yet again that faith is not about adhering to an ideal or being a member of an organization. It is the experience of being called by our names, and of the uniqueness of one’s own history.

We need to ask ourselves if we are Christians only because we were educated in a “Christian” way, or if because at a certain point in our lives we felt personally challenged by the Gospel. 

Finally, the third and last thing we find in today’s reading is the rather unexpected recommendation not to start with those who are far away, but with those who are close to us: “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And preach as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’”

In fact, sometimes those who are ‘far away’ become a perfect excuse to be unmerciful to the ones who are right next to us. It is always easier to dream about preaching the Gospel at the other end of the world than to bridge the gaps separating us from those with whom we live.

~

Father Luigi Maria Epicoco is a priest of the Aquila Diocese and teaches Philosophy at the Pontifical Lateran University and at the ISSR ‘Fides et ratio’, Aquila. He dedicates himself to preaching, especially for the formation of laity and religious, giving conferences, retreats and days of recollection. He has authored numerous books and articles. Since 2021, he has served as the Ecclesiastical Assistant in the Vatican Dicastery for Communication and columnist for the Vatican’s daily newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.

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LiturgyScriptureSpiritual Life
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