Jesus went around to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom, and curing every disease and illness. At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.” Then he summoned his Twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out and to cure every disease and every illness.
Jesus sent out these Twelve after instructing them thus, “Go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons.Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
On December 7, 1941, Americans were surprised and shocked when they heard that Pearl Harbor was bombed. They were shaken out of their normal lives into a world of destruction and fear. How would these people have heard and understood today’s Gospel story? How would they have responded to Jesus’ proclamation that the Kingdom of heaven is at hand?
Over 70 years have passed since Pearl Harbor, but our world is still full of hate, terrorism, wars, and suffering. We long for the fulfillment of the angelic message ‘Peace on Earth.’ After reading today’s Gospel, questions arise in me about my response to Jesus’ proclamation about the Kingdom of heaven being at hand.
Do I feel shocked and shaken out of my normal life when I hear these words, or do I just gloss over this familiar story? Do I take to heart that Jesus needs my help to bring about peace on earth, or do I figure that someone else will follow Jesus’ instructions? Do I believe that my actions can heal people, help others to experience peace, and unify my community?
We live in a time of already, but not yet. The Kingdom of God is among us, but it is not yet completed. We await the birth of Christ into the world on Christmas day knowing full well that Jesus lived and died over 2000 years ago. During Advent we must engage these dichotomies and “cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, and drive out demons”– all in Jesus’ name.
—Brother John Moriconi, S.J., a noted mandolinist, is provincial’s secretary for the Chicago-Detroit Jesuit Province.
Lord, increase my faith to believe that your kingdom really lives right where I am at this very moment. But how does it live? Why do I miss it so often? What if I prayed for the grace to really trust that you are here? With your Spirit directing me, I can love when I thought love was dormant; I can serve when I thought I had nothing left to give; and I can walk in the confidence that I am your beloved.
—The Jesuit Prayer Team