June 18, 2023: Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Gospel: Matthew 9:36–10:8
At the sight of the crowds, Jesus’ 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.
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; Philip and Bartholomew, Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddeus; Simon from Cana, and Judas Iscariot who betrayed him.
Jesus sent out these twelve after instructing them thus, “Do not go into pagan territory or enter a Samaritan town. Go rather 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.”
This Gospel reading from Matthew is a Gospel of calling and of mission. The first sentence tells us what prompted Jesus’ words — his compassion for the crowd that he saw as troubled and abandoned. We recall what Jesus said in the synagogue as he began his mission, after reading the prophecy of Isaiah regarding the coming of the Messiah.
Jesus said that he had come to heal the sick, bring sight to the blind, and to set the burdened free. Surely Jesus has this same reaction of compassion when he recognizes the state of the people in so many areas of the world today. And in these times, we are Jesus’ hands and feet in a world so troubled and so in need of compassion.
News writers today are stressing that there is an epidemic of loneliness present in our society. We may not be able to see ourselves curing the sick or casting out demons, but we can be present in love to one another, to help our neighbors feel supported during these difficult times.
Consider how we might be compassionate people in today’s world. Can we put our devices down and really make time for and listen to those around us? The risen Christ asks that of us.