What people do with our witness is not our business.
Today’s readings can be found here.
As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment. Take no gold, or silver, or copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics, or sandals, or a staff; for laborers deserve their food. Whatever town or village you enter, find out who in it is worthy, and stay there until you leave. As you enter the house, greet it. If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. Truly I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.
“You received without payment; give without payment.” This lack of compensation, this graceful and gratuitous giving, is the highest form of witness in the whole Gospel. It is the scale by which our credibility as believers and as a Church either collapses or remains standing. “Free” means never awaiting any kind of reimbursement for our love, our closeness, our hope.
Gratuitousness means never acting out of interest –not even that of proselytism. Gratuitousness is the language of free people who do not rely on their own convictions, but rather only on the Lord who is always with them.
Being free means not putting trust in our own means, but only in the One who gives strength: “Take no gold, or silver, or copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics, or sandals, or a staff; for laborers deserve their food.”
It is not our job to worry about whether this non-repayable gratuity will bear fruit or not. That is not what the Lord is asking from us. He is just telling us to act freely so we can be witnesses to his love, which also moves and is given freely.
Whoever wastes this gratuitous love will be infinitely responsible for rejecting it. In fact, love implies two different freedoms: the freedom to give and the freedom to receive.
God constantly gives us his love, so that by receiving it we can be his image, wherever we are. So that we can love our children, brothers, sisters, friends, colleagues, and even the people we bump into just once. What these people will then do with this love no longer concerns us. It is not about our capacities, but about their own freedom.
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.