Today’s gospel reading (Mt 10:24-33) falls in the middle of Jesus’ discourse to the twelve apostles as He commissions them to go spread the gospel, heal, and exorcise throughout the land (see also Mk 6:7-13 and Lk 9:1-6). Jesus calls on the men to be like their Teacher and then expect to be treated the same way (see the headline). But they should not be afraid, even unto death, because acknowledging Jesus means that He, the just judge, will advocate for them to the Father. Those who fail to do so may save their lives here but risk eternal damnation.
When one reads the headline, one immediately thinks of Jesus being attacked by the Pharisees (“He drives out demons by the prince of demons” — Mt 9:34; we see this again with great detail provided in Mt 12:22-32). Undoubtedly the Twelve recalled this episode as Jesus said these words to them. But they were just on the sidelines for these venomous (I use this term purposely as I recall the Garden of Eden) attacks directed at the Master. Now they know to expect such epithets hurled at them. And maybe worse. Yet we know they did go out, nevertheless, speaking boldly, curing the sick, and confronting the devil’s agents (see Mk 6:30, Lk 9:10, and Lk 10:17-20).
At the end of Mass we are told: Ite missa est. We are sent on mission (“the liturgy in which the mystery of salvation is accomplished concludes with the sending forth [missio] of the faithful, so that they may fulfill God’s will in their daily lives” — CCC 1332). Like the apostles, we too are called to imitate the Lord, to strive to be like Him. When we speak boldly — as did Christ and His loyal followers — should we not expect to be treated as He was (see also Mt 5:11-12)? In an era turned upside down by the “prince of this world” (Jn 14:30) is it surprising that those who defend life, liberty, religious freedom, and marriage are to be made out to be the devil. Now is the time for a special courage of conviction, with the help that God is ever ready to give through His Spirit (see Mt 10:19 just before today’s reading in the same speech). “It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher” Jesus says earlier in the same verse quoted in the headline. Are we better than Jesus Christ that we should not suffer the same ignominy that He did?
“Take courage; be stouthearted” (Ps 27:14)!
“If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom 8:31)
Let us transform the culture and not stand idly by, or worse, let a fallen world lead to our apathy or acquiescence.