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Genesis 46:1-7, 28-30; Matthew 10:16-23

There is a marked contrast in today’s readings.  In the first reading, Jacob is reunited with Joseph, his missing son.  Jacob’s life is now complete, and he can die contentedly.  Joseph has accomplished his mission of saving his family, the eventual Chosen People.

In the Gospel reading, Matthew is beginning his Missionary Discourse.  After gathering his twelve disciples and missioning them to preach, exorcise, and heal the people of Israel, Jesus warns of hostility toward their efforts.  He points out that there will be trials, divisions and betrayals within families, hatred and persecution.  Tough stuff!

Why should Jesus’ message of love arouse such hostility?  The Christian message is counter-cultural.  In asking folks to change their lives and lifestyles, there is an upsetting of vested interests and of the status quo.  Folks get nasty when that happens.

Are there helps in handling this hostility?  There is the promise given here of the Spirit’s assistance.  There is the realization that Jesus went through all this and that Jesus asks no more of us than he was willing to do.  Finally, there are throughout the Gospels numerous examples of Jesus “bailing out” the disciples and thus the assurance for us of such loving care and concern.

Can we expect hostility to our living out the Christian message?  Hopefully, yes.  If Christian values are to remain a counter-cultural challenge to secular, materialistic society, opposition is inevitable and ought be joyfully welcomed.  That is our calling as Christians.  We turn to the Spirit for guidance and courage.  

By Tom Schloemer

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