We enter Ordinary Time with Jesus’ call to proclaim the reign of God. The preacher’s challenge today is to wed that proclamation to the healing Jesus’ gives his messengers authority to bring about. Where is the healing happening in your community?
By joining together these verses, the lectionary shows Matthew's intention that the disciples should do what Jesus did. Jesus proclaimed the “good news of the kingdom of heaven” (9:35); the disciples are to proclaim the good news that “the kingdom of heaven has come near” (10:7). Jesus cures every disease and sickness (9:35) and gives the disciples authority “to cure every disease and every sickness” (10:1). Jesus views the crowds “like sheep without a shepherd” (9:36) and sends the disciples to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (10:6).
The mission of the Twelve is not just to preach about the kingdom but also to actualize it through deeds of spiritual power: driving out demons and curing diseases (manifestations in human life and evil and brokenness). . .
The descriptions attached to the names [of the apostles] show what a motley crew this was: Simon was called “Rock” (Peter); Matthew was a tax collector; the other Simon was a Canaanite, a zealot for the law (from the Aramaic kanana, enthusiast, not a resident of the land of Canaan), and Judas Iscariot was a traitor. Those who are gathered by Jesus and commissioned for leadership roles in the church are a diverse and imperfect group, and this was apparently the Master's intention. – Frank C. Senn
This pericope affirms God's call to his people to be “holy,” that is, to belong to God. Holiness or sanctification means that the people have been set apart like priests in order to offer a sacrifice that is pleasing to the Lord. Holiness in the biblical tradition implied that the people should be like God, who is distinct from the creation. Therefore, the people of God are to be distinct from all the peoples and cultures around them, both morally and ritually. –– Frank C. Senn
Peace is here understood as reconciliation (making peace), which is referred to explicitly in verses 10–11. The condition of reconciliation through Christ gives us access to the grace of God. This access gives us the right to boast not only of glory but also of suffering. We highly regard suffering because it leads to endurance, which produces character, which produces a hope that does not disappoint because it resides in hearts into which God's love has been poured through the gift of the Holy Spirit. A homily might unpack each of these concepts, showing how one builds on the other.
God has overcome his own wrath against sin. . . by the sacrifice of his Son. This is an expression of God's love for his weak and fallen human creatures. Paul never speaks of God being reconciled with us but of us being reconciled with God, since we were the estranged party. Christ's blood is the condition of our restoration to divine favor. This has consequences for both the present and the future. Christ's sacrificial death reconciles us now in our present life before God and also saves us in the final judgment. – Frank C. Senn
Frank C. Senn, an ELCA pastor who served Immanuel Lutheran Church in Evanston, Illinois, from 1990-2013, has also taught liturgy courses at a number of seminaries and divinity schools and published thirteen books mostly on the history of the liturgy.
Homily Service 41, no. 3 (2008): 54-62.