Sunday, June 17, 2018

Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

Matthew 10:1-15
As you go, proclaim this message: 'The kingdom of heaven has come near. 'Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give. (Matt. 10:7&8)
This passage is about the call and commission of an alternative community, the Apostles. Jesus called ordinary people and commissioned them to continue His mission in the community around them. The term Apostle is mentioned only in this passage in the Gospel of Matthew. The Apostle is "one who is sent away". The purpose of such a sending away is to convey a message. This passage instructs us about the identity and activity of Apostleship.
1. The identity of an Apostle: - This whole chapter narrates the identity and lifestyle of the community of disciples. Here Jesus renamed or ordained the disciples into a new office, 'the Apostle'. The community of disciples is constituted not by birth but by God's action in Jesus. The twelve had flaws and weaknesses but Jesus entrusted God's mission into their hands. The Apostles are Jesus' community, an alternative community of different social patterns, shared resources and resistance to oppressive structures. For this He gave them God-given authority. The life of an Apostle is meant to be one of giving rather than receiving. Apostle must not profit from the mission but must embrace the margins of poverty and powerlessness. The criteria of Apostleship are suffering for Christ.
2.   Activity of the Apostle: - The Apostles are given the authority to heal the sick, raise the dead and drive out demons (v.8). The list reflects the life and work of Christ in chapters 8 and 9 of this Gospel. This is a collective work, a movement which is only an extension of Jesus ministry. Their message is the same as Jesus' message i.e. the kingdom of heaven is at hand. This kingdom challenges all worldly imperial powers and religious elites. It is life-giving, committed to justice and concern to the poor and needy. Mission means participation in God's purpose to transform human existence by saving it from sin and bondage. Here (v.6) the emphasis is the immediate need of the lost sheep of Israel but at the later part of this Gospel we can see the larger needs which extend to gentiles and the whole world (10: 18; 28:16-20).
Our church is an Apostolic Church sent out by our Lord to continue His mission in the community around us. The Apostleship is not a position of honor and privilege. The authority entrusted on us is not a worldly one or domination of the other but to serve the needy. It is not a given office to hold on but for doing the Lord's ministry and serve the community. We are Apostles, the alternative community.
Almighty Father, we praise you for having entrusted us the task of apostleship disregarding our weakness and flaws. Give us the power to continue our mission in humility and faithfulness. Amen.
God does not call the qualified but qualifies the called.

Christian Education Forum, Diocese of NAE of the Mar Thoma Church