The sending out of the twelve, Matthew 9:35-10:8. July 8, 2020 by Barro

This reflection can also be viewed from our Youtube channel here

Wominjeka, welcome sisters and brothers on a cold and wet winters day, I’m Stephen Barrington, or Barro from the Melbourne chapter of God’s Squad here in Australia.

These past few months have been very difficult globally for us all, as we have attempted to respond to this deadly pandemic.

In my own city of Melbourne, we have recently experienced many new cases of infection, and as a result, we have new restrictions put in place in order to save lives, particularly of the most vulnerable.

I pray especially for our global and local leaders and frontline health workers in these difficult times.

One of the many things I miss during these restrictions, is being on my bike and on the road with my mates.

Being on the road, and going out to meet others, and connect with them on their turf, is one of the core values of God’s Squad, it’s what we have been doing for nearly 50 years now.

Today’s gospel passage starts with Jesus and his mates also on the road, going through the towns and villages in rural Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.

It is from Matthew 9:35-10:8 and I encourage you to read it and reflect on it.

Healing and liberation were core parts of Jesus’ message.

Why? Because we are told in this passage, and in many other places, that Jesus had compassion on them. He was moved to act.

We see this over and over again in the gospels, that healing and liberation comes out of compassion and love, especially to the last, the least and the lost.

In this passage, Jesus then gathers the twelve and sends them out. They are sent out to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons and to proclaim the kingdom of heaven is near.

They are sent, like Jesus to the last, the least and the lost to announce liberation and healing

As I said earlier, this has been the mission of God’s Squad for nearly 50 years now, not waiting for people to come to us, but going out to the margins, whether it be in the bike scene, to the homeless, to sit with our indigenous sisters and brothers, or to many other places, the call is to go out to the vulnerable and isolated, to the last, the least and the lost.

That is why we wear this badge that says “Jesus Christ, friend of the outcast” to be a friend as Jesus was.

And we are not called into this journey alone, Jesus gives us traveling companions along the way. This is important, we need each other.

We get an indication of this in today’s passage, where all 12 of the disciples are mentioned by name.

It is worth noting that even though they were with Jesus on the road, they were far from perfect.

• Peter will deny Jesus three times,
• Judas will betray him to death,
• Two of them held opposite positions within the Roman occupation (Matthew the tax collector colluded with the Romans, while Simon the Zealot worked often violently to overthrow them).
• Two of them, James and John, go behind the backs of the other disciples to ask for a special place in God’s kingdom, they play politics in order to shore up their own powerbase, not much has changed eh?

They are a motley mob, and not the ones that I would have picked to change the world, I would have chosen people with the skills and talents to get the job done. People with a proven track record. But hey, Jesus’ ways are so different from mine.

This Jesus constantly says and models that
• The first shall be last,
• That outsiders are included,
• and in fact, Jesus himself sits with those on the margins, not in the traditional places of power such as the royal palace in Rome or even Jerusalem,
• He leads as a servant, not as a tyrant.
• This is his upside-down kingdom, where he constantly subverts the normal ways of doing things and uses the unexpected in order to fulfill his purposes.

And we see this in today’s passage when he names his disciples, full of failures, issues, anxieties and well, just normal like you and I.

I don’t know about you, but this gives me hope. Hope that the God of the universe, the creator of all things, chooses you and I, in spite of our stuff ups, insecurities and failures for his mission of love and grace to a broken world.

God’s Squad is a great example of this, a widely diverse bunch of sisters and brothers from different backgrounds, cultures and understandings to share his love around today.

Many of us feel inadequate, many of us feel like failures, many of us feel like we constantly get it wrong. The good news is that Jesus calls us to follow him, not because of how important we are, not because we are perfect, not because of our gifts and skills, in fact he often chooses us in spite of them.

He calls us into a relationship with him, and to partner with him because of his great compassion, love and grace for you and I

So, the challenge for me, and all of us today as we attempt to follow Jesus, like the disciples did many years ago, is how do we respond to his call?

How do we look to share his message of healing and liberation?

How do we respond with compassion, love and grace, and not through division, hate and fear to those around us, especially like Jesus did, to the last, the least and the lost?

I pray today in these difficult times, that we may all know that we are loved and valued and may we have the wisdom and grace to continue to follow Jesus and serve others around us with love and compassion. A-men.

Barro – GSCMC Melbourne chapter, Australia

This reflection can also be viewed from our Youtube channel here