Mt 10:1-7 Some of the Luckiest People In The World
(Click here for readings)
Jesus summoned his Twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out and to cure every disease and every illness…He sent out these Twelve after instructing them thus, “Do not go into pagan territory or enter a Samaritan town. Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
Their names are listed for all the world to see: Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, James, Thaddeus, Simon and Judas Iscariot. But what’s in a name, if it isn’t backed by another name? What makes their names “special” if they are not backed by the only name in which there is salvation, Jesus Christ? For this reason alone Peter is The Rock and Judas is The Betrayer.
Their names are forever remembered because they are forever associated with the Eternal One.
They came from nowhere. Most of them lived in extreme poverty. Almost all of them had no formal education. And yet, we often think of the Twelve has having been privileged; as if they had received an additional Sacrament, a secret Sacrament, that no others had received. But that is wishful thinking. It’s convenient for me to think this way; it allows me to lower the bar; keep the expectations to a minimum.
Who needs expectations? After all, they can only disappoint.
Sean Covey wrote the book, “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.” The book was highly effective…for him. When we think of highly effective people, we think of successful people. And when we think of successful people, we think of money. What we should think of is holiness. What we should think of are the “Seven Sacraments of Highly Effective People” by Jesus Christ.
What the Apostles received, I received. Of course these men were blessed. They walked with the Lord; they talked to him. They actually saw miracles take place by Him. But so did Judas.
What the Apostles received, I received. But what they did with it makes all the difference in the world. They took it and ran with it!
Go to the lost sheep of Israel. This was their first assignment. They were asked to go rescue those caught up in the hurricane. The Lord wanted to shock his Apostles and to shock his people. They went for maximum exposure. They went straight into action and right at the problem: the lost sheep of Israel; the Jews who were lost and needed to be found. Today, we would call them fallen away Catholics who are lost and need to be found.
Often I am asked by hot headed yet well intended Catholics to pound hard and drive home in my homilies hot button issues to Sunday Catholics. But if their heavy handed tactics don’t make much of an impression on me, it will definitely not impress many of them.
My homilies are nothing like my blog. Why? Because they are not the place or the way to go about discussing hot button issues to fallen away Catholics. Most people will think it is out of fear. They insult me. But what is there to fear? That we are rejected? We already are! The reason why you won’t hear priests discuss contraceptives or gay-marriage directly from the pulpit is because it is not effective. Since our Catholic schools failed to teach our children these issues; since CCD failed to teach them anything; since families failed to teach them the faith, then everyone thinks it’s the priest that must clean up the mess in Mass! So now, after all this failure, well intended Catholics want us to discuss all the things that should have been taught at home, on the weekends and in our schools should now be taught in Mass, en masse! No!
There are some priests that try to do it. It looks like it works. But it does it from the pulpit? Are they successful in filling the pews by attracting the faithful from all over? Have they brought the unchurched to church? Have they found the lost? What we know that works is one-to-one relationships. What we know is successful are Catholic families that teach the faith to their children; Catholic schools that teach the faith to their students; Catholic ministries that bring the faith to others.
What must the priests do for the lost sheep of Rome? They must have a child-like heart.
Express hope in sadness. Share a laugh with the truth. Teach the truth and show mercy and forgiveness. Write your thoughts down and share them with others. Pope Benedict’s homilies are not the same as Pope Benedict’s encyclicals. John Paul’s mega gatherings full of laughter and smiles were not the same as John Paul’s staff meetings full of agendas and concerns. We must always be Christ-like to others. Know where is the best place, when is the best time and best way to give Jesus Christ. Know when to be Christ-like by being child-like. Know when to be Christ-like by being martyr. Know when to be Christ-like by being a leader!
Joy is essential in converting the hearts and minds of fallen away Catholics. If I look sad, gloomy, cheerless and distressed over issues the Church faces, then I have given more power, more authority and more weight to the bad news than to the Good News; more ammunition to my enemies than to my best friend, Jesus Christ; more credibility to the devil than to our Savior. No one in their right mind will ever be convinced of my faith by the gloom on my face! Instead, look at Jesus: determined in his distress; cool under duress; loving and forgiving when we transgress; joyful and peaceful in his success.
“Glorify the Lord with me, let us together extol his name. I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears…Look to him that you may be radiant with joy, and you faces may not blush with shame. When the poor one called out, the LORD heard, and from all his distress he saved him.” (Ps. 34:2-7)
The luckiest people in the world are the holiest! Let's show it.