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Eleventh Sunday – Year A – Ordinary Time
Readings: Exo 19:2-6a; Rom 5:6-11; Mt 9:36-10:8.
1/ First Reading (Exo 19:2-6a): 2 After they made the journey from Rephidim and entered the wilderness of Sinai, they then pitched camp in the wilderness. While Israel was encamped there in front of the mountain, 3 Moses went up to the mountain of God. Then the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying: This is what you will say to the house of Jacob; tell the Israelites: 4 You have seen how I treated the Egyptians and how I bore you up on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now, if you obey me completely and keep my covenant, you will be my treasured possession among all peoples, though all the earth is mine. 6 You will be to me a kingdom of priests, a holy nation.
2/ Second Reading (Rom 5:6-11): 6 For Christ, while we were still helpless, yet died at the appointed time for the ungodly. 7 Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person, though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die. 8 But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. 9 How much more then, since we are now justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath. 10 Indeed, if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, how much more, once reconciled, will we be saved by his life. 11 Not only that, but we also boast of God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
3/ Gospel (Mt 9:36-10:8): 36 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. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; 38 so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.” 1 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. 2 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; 3 Philip and Bartholomew, Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddeus; 4 Simon the Cananean, and Judas Iscariot who betrayed him. 5 Jesus sent out these twelve after instructing them thus, “Do not go into pagan territory or enter a Samaritan town. 6 Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 8 Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons. Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.
I. THEME: The stages in God’s salvation plan
People at all times and places are easy to be confused, and when they are confused, they don’t know what to do. Therefore, the Church always need to have clear and eager preachers to lead and to help straying faithful to come back to God. One of necessary conditions is preachers must know exact stages in God’s salvation plan. According to this plan, God chose Moses and Aaron to lead His own nation according to Sinai Covenant. His goal of establishing His own nation-the Israel is to prepare for the Messiah to come. All prophets of the Exiles and after the Exiles continuously prepared the Israelites for the Messiah’s coming. Next stage, Christ is the Messiah, sent by God to establish the New Covenant, signed by His blood. When Christ came, besides revealing the Good News of salvation, He also established the Twelves and many disciples to train and to send them out to bring this Good News to all people. This is the stage of the Church.
Today reading show us the general stages of God’s salvation plan. In the first reading, God through the guidance of Moses and Aaron led the Israelites out of Egypt to Mount Sinai to establish a covenant with them. According to this covenant, He became their God, and they became His own nation. In the second reading, God sent Christ, His own Son, into the world, and He became the mediator of the New Covenant. With this covenant, salvation is extended to all people, Israelites and Gentiles. All people who profess their faith in Christ become God’s people, are reconciled with God, and inherited the eternal salvation. In the Gospel, Jesus called and trained twelve apostles as twelve tribes of a new nation, God’s nation. He gives them power and send them to preach about God’s kingdom and to heal people.
1/ First Reading: “You will be to me a kingdom of priests, a holy nation.”
1.1/ Establishing a special nation is completely by God’s will: In the Book of Genesis, God promised with the forefathers – Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – He shall give them a descent, a promise land and blessing (Gen 12:1-3; 15:1-19; 22:15-18; 26:2-5; 28:13-15). In the Book of Exodus, God did all what He promised. Beginning with the Burning Bush event, He commanded Moses to meet king Pharaoh and asked him to let the Israelites go and meet Him in the desert… After passing the Red Sea, they stop at Mount Sinai. Here God revealed Himself to the Israelites and made a covenant with them.
Because the Israelites couldn’t witness God’s power, so they ask God to speak with Moses, and he will deliver God’s message for them. Moses climbed up to the mountain top to meet God. From the top, God called him and said: “This is what you will say to the house of Jacob; tell the Israelites: 4 You have seen how I treated the Egyptians and how I bore you up on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.” God wants Moses and the Israelites to clearly remember that the Passover from Egypt is impossible to people; but God had done so. He brought them out of Egypt as the eagle carried its newborn on the wings, because He loved them and fulfilled His promise with their forefathers.
1.2/ The Israelites’ obligation: According to the Covenant which God signed with the Israelites through Moses, their mediator: God shall protect the Israelites and give to the twelve tribes the Promise Land as their inheritance. On Israel’s part, they must listen to God’s teachings through their leaders and keep the Covenant, expressed by the Ten Commandments. God commanded Moses to speak these words to the Israelites: “5 Now, if you obey me completely and keep my covenant, you will be my treasured possession among all peoples, though all the earth is mine. 6 You will be to me a kingdom of priests, a holy nation.”
The Israelites are very proud to be God’s own people, was given the Ten Commandments by God’s own hands. They are called by God to be a holy nation as God is holy, and their duty is to love God with all their hearts, their souls and their minds.
2/ Second Reading: “God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.”
2.1/ We are reconciled with God through Jesus Christ: St. Paul clearly understood God’s plan of salvation because he had the individual experience on the journey to Damascus. Before this event, he thought God’s salvation plan is only for the Jews and he didn’t believe Christ is God’s Messiah. After being struck by a powerful light from heaven and being blind, Paul completely changed. He believes Christ is the Savior and God’s salvation plan is now extended to all people and nations. In today passage, he declared to the Roman faithful which most of them are the Gentiles: “6 For Christ, while we were still helpless, yet died at the appointed time for the ungodly. 7 Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person, though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die. 8 But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.”
Christ poured out His blood for all people – Jews and Gentiles – because all of them committed sins and needed to become righteous. When people sin, they must be separated from God; but because Christ’s blood purifies their sins, they become righteous by their faith in Christ. The effects are they are reconciled with God and avoid His angry judgment.
2.2/ We are shared in God’s divine life by Christ’s blood poured out for us: The faithful are not only purified and reconciled with God, but they are also shared the divine life with Christ, God’s Only Son. St. Paul probably wants to talk about graces which the faithful receive through Christ’s works (incarnation, sufferings, death…)
3/ Gospel: Jesus came to establish a New Kingdom based on a New Covenant.
3.1/ The goal of establishing a New Kingdom is to gather all lost sheep into one flock: Many people question: Why God created all people but He only chose the Israelites, His own people? Question is answer, God cannot choose only the Israelites, but He chose them first to prepare for Christ to come. When He comes, He shall extend God’s salvation plan to all people. At the beginning of today passage, St. Matthew reported: “36 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.”
Jesus’ compassion for the crowd is the reason why He cares for people. Sheep without a shepherd can happen because of the following reasons:
(1) There are no shepherds: This still happens now due to many reasons: individualism, materialism, abortion, birth control and few children in families.
(2) There are lacking of good and eager shepherds: Instead of eagerly preaching and caring for sheep, many shepherds only look for sheep’s fur or meat. Instead of building people’s spiritual temple, shepherds only worry about building material temples.
(3) There are shepherds but don’t know how to guide people: Instead of nourishing people by God’s words and sacraments, they feed people by things which are not God’s words and graces.
Jesus said to His disciples: “37 The harvest is abundant, but the laborers are few; 38 so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.” The compassion for people and the love of God must be the motivation for all missionary works. The faithful must pray to God so He will send many fervent preachers and they themselves must also eagerly act and contribute their effort in missionary field.
3.2/ Jesus formed the Twelve and sent them out to execute His goal: Jesus called twelve apostles and trained them to become fervent preachers and to have necessary qualities before He sent them into the world.
The noun “apostolos” deriving from Greek verb “apostellein” means “to be sent.” All of them are chosen by Jesus and to be sent by Him, no one in the Twelve voluntarily followed Jesus. Their temperaments are very different to the point of contrary: Peter is fervent and quick to talk to live with John who is thoughtful and seldom talk; Simon who belonged to the Extremists’ group (this group hate those who work for foreigners) to live with Matthew, a tax-collector for the Romans. All of them lived together to work for one mission that is to preach the Good News to all nations.
No one of the Twelve is standout, most of them are undistinguished according to human standards; this shows God’s power and wisdom. No one expected these uneducated, timid, power thirsting people to become fervent preachers, to conquer the world and to build the firm Church which lasts for more than 2,000 years!
3.3/ Jesus sends them out with one command: to preach that God’s kingdom is near: Why did Jesus give His apostles the command: “6 Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Before God’s salvation plan is extended to all people, God chose the Israelites as His own people to train them. Christ also followed God’s wise way to train people. Before the Gospel is extended to the whole world, Christ trained the small group and send them to preach to small places, beginning with “the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Later, He chose Paul and Barnabas and sent them to preach to the Gentiles because they had many experiences in larger environments. Modern people still use “training small groups” because it is very effective in all areas.
Jesus’ command is very clear: On the way and preach the Good News because God’s kingdom is at hand. He also gives them power to heal to trigger the faith. He gives them His command: “Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.” Since the Good News are freely given to the apostles, they must also give out free of charge.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– We need to study to know God’s salvation plan. Knowing this plan shall help us to know God’s will to do and to avoid extreme attitudes toward other nations or people.
– Jesus Christ is the center of God’s plan of salvation. He came to the world to fulfill all God’s wills and to establish a new people for God’s kingdom.
– All of us live in this world is for a purpose which is to achieve salvation for ourselves and for others. We should not so worry about other activities and forget about our main duty which is to preach the Good News.