TODAY'S gospel is recorded in Matthew 7:10-15: Jesus said to his apostles:
"As you go, make this proclamation: 'The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.' Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, drive out demons. Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give. Do not take gold or silver or copper for your belts; no sack for the journey, or a second tunic, or sandals, or walking stick. The laborer deserves his keep. Whatever town or village you enter, look for a worthy person in it, and stay there until you leave. As you enter a house, wish it peace. If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; if not, let your peace return to you. Whoever will not receive you or listen to your words, go outside that house or town and shake the dust from your feet. Amen, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town."
Clearly this is a gospel of commissioning. Jesus commissioned his apostles to carry out his mission - to proclaim the kingdom of heaven, to cure the sick, to raise the dead, to cleanse the lepers and to drive out demons. His was thus a concern for the totality or fullness of life - salvation, physical healing, spiritual healing, reunion with the community and freedom from the forces of darkness. As he said, "I came that you may have life and have it to the full."
In providing his children these benefits, God desired that men partake of his mission. Not because he needed their services; no, he could have done it all alone for he was an all-powerful and all-sufficient God. He engaged the services of his apostles so that their joy may be made complete. Elsewhere in the gospel, we see the apostles coming back, reporting joyfully that even the bad spirits obey them. Jesus answered, "Rejoice not because the evil spirits obey you but because your names are written in heaven."
To be an apostle of Christ is not easy. One has to deny himself, carry his cross and follow Jesus. There will be countless hardships with respect to lack of material needs in this world, rejection and even persecution by people. But Jesus promised that in all these, we will overcome. He said he will never leave us but will be with us until the end of time. He also said that whatever we lose for his sake, he will give us back a hundredfold.
May we be the modern-day apostles. May we use our tongues to proclaim the good news of God's salvation and our hands to lay on the bodies of sick people that they may be healed. May we restore to the human community all those who were separated by symbolic leprosy and may we, through the words and blood of Jesus, liberate all those who are enslaved by the devil. And as we work in the Lord's mission field, may we not claim any credit for ourselves but say, "To God be the glory."