Then Jesus called his twelve disciples and gave them power and authority to drive out all evil spirits and to heal diseases. And he sent them to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. He instructed them, “Don’t take anything for the journey, neither staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor silver coins; and don’t even take a spare tunic. Whatever house you enter, remain there until you leave that place. And wherever they don’t welcome you, leave the town and shake the dust from your feet: it will be as a testimony against them.”
So they set out and went through the villages, proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere.
Today’s gospel reading is highly revealing. It reveals both what kind of man Jesus was and what kind of Church he wants us to be. For he sends his disciples on a missionary tour, yet does not tell them to perform religious activities! Their mission is not about teaching the Our Father, for example, or explaining new truths about God, or organizing prayer meetings. Their mission is to help people in their basic needs as human beings, above all, in curing their diseases. In this connection, it is remarkable that according to Jesus’ solemn teaching (cf. Mt 25:31-46), when they appear before the glorious Christ for the Last Judgment, people will be judged neither on the basis of their religious beliefs nor of their religious practices nor of their degree of faith. They will be judged on whether or not they have fed, housed, clothed, healed or consoled their neighbor in need. In the other words of James, “In the sight of God, pure and blameless religion lies in helping the orphans and widows in need and keeping oneself from the world’s corruption” (Jas 1:27). In other words, Christianity is not just limited to piety and prayer, but has a lot to do with service and help given to anybody in need.
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