St Michael’s Church, Church Lane, Aughton, Ormskirk L39 6SB Tel 01695 424457 (Parish Office, Mon to Fri, 9am - 12 noon)
18th June 2017 - Trinity 1
Gospel Reading: Matthew 9.35-10.23
Theme: Sheep among wolves
Bible notes on the reading:
In his account of Jesus’ ministry Matthew has shown that, with his words, he authoritatively taught (chapters 5–7), that we should be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect (5.48), and that by his deeds he showed this authority in action (chapters 8–9), bringing healing, and even raising a child from death. His disciples heard him teach (5.1), and witnessed his accomplishments (8.23; 9.19). Now, they receive from Jesus that same authority to proclaim the good news, cure the sick and raise the dead. The ministry of Jesus’ followers continues his ministry. This is true in Jesus’ time, when ‘these twelve’, symbolic of the renewed calling of the tribes of Israel, are sent only to Israel’s ‘lost sheep’. And it is true for Matthew’s readers, for whom ‘the twelve’ also stand for Christians of their own time. Their later mission is still to Israel, whose ‘towns’ (v.23) may include their communities throughout the Roman Empire, but it is also to ‘all nations’ (28.19). This is reflected here in the description of suffering as a witness to ‘the Gentiles’ (v.18). It is striking that the disciples’ fate is described in language that closely follows the account of Jesus’ own betrayal and arrest, trial, torture and execution. The disciples’ ministry is an extension of Jesus’ ministry, and their suffering is a sharing in his too.
The disciples’ mission is rooted in that of Jesus, and his is rooted in that of God. Jesus’ compassion for the lost sheep of Israel reflects that of the God who, as the true ‘Shepherd of Israel’ (Psalm 80.1), has compassion on the people and gathers them from the ends of the world (Deuteronomy 30.3-4). The disciples are to give freely, as they have freely received from the God whose invitation to the thirsty is ‘Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price’ (Isaiah 55.1). Their bare and dusty feet are the beautiful ‘feet of the messenger who announces peace, who brings good news’ (Isaiah 52.7). ‘House’ perhaps includes the house church of Matthew’s day, where itinerant preachers, in communion with the local communities who welcome them, together come to ‘know that the Lord is God’, and that ‘we are his people and the sheep of his pasture’ (Psalm 100.3).
But these are sheep among wolves, and freely sharing God’s compassion is costly in a greedy and violent world. That inhospitable world will vanish with Sodom and Gomorrah at the consummation of God’s kingdom. For now, ‘the Spirit of your Father’ (v.20) gives voice to the oppressed, who will by their endurance be saved.
Live your faith - ideas for our faith into action in our daily living.
For children: Encourage everyone to do an act of kindness during the coming week.
For young people: This week, take one small step outside your comfort zone and try something you think is beyond you.
For adults: Find out about the work local Christians are doing to share in Jesus’ compassion for the world, and look for a way in which you can personally support this work.
Find out more about one of the bible passages
we have heard this week.
Prayers around today’s themes
A way into prayer
A children’s prayer
Lord, I am your disciple today.
Show me how to serve you.
Teach me your compassion
and bless those whom I meet.
A prayer for personal use during this week
bless me with your peace, that I may share it with others;
show me where I am rich, that may be generous to others;
make me compassionate, that I may be gentle to others;
speak to my weaknesses, that I may not demand from others;
touch my pain, that I may not hurt others.
Use all that I am in your service, that I may be an example to others – not because I am special, or wise, or good or gifted, but because you are. Amen.
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Reflection questions on this week's picture: