Mt 10:16-23 To know and To Know
Jesus said to his Apostles: “Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves…Beware of men, for they will hand you over to courts and scourge you…and you will be led before governors and kings…Brother will hand over brother to death, and the father his child…You will be hated by all because of my name.”
“I am sending you like sheep…” It’s simply radical! Amazing! Refreshing! The Lord’s honesty is simply out of this world. How unique he is and in so many ways! He is telling his men the truth and more than just the truth. He is telling them the brutal truth and is not sugar coating it. If He errs, he errs on the side of being too ‘negative’. He really wants them to know what they are getting themselves into before it happens. How refreshing! How confident! How trusting!
“Can you help me? It will take five minutes.” That’s what people say when they want your help. I usually respond with a nod and a “surrre”. The person asking knows perfectly well it won’t take five minutes. Even I know it won’t take five minutes! But my all time favorite is this one: “Father, do you have one minute?” That’s a very good one!
“You will be handed over…” Why in the world did the Apostles agree to say after hearing such dire predictions? Why didn’t they pick up their things and leave…for good? Simon Peter was not starving to death as a fisherman. He would have been just fine where he was. Paul was very intelligent. He had a bright future! He would have been successful in anything he put his mind into. Luke was a medical doctor. All doctors do well!!!
The reason is simple. Christ is gain. He will never be loss. The greatest loss is to have never known the greatest Good. To live a life devoid of Christ is like living a life without a heart. It is impossible! And those who try end up either ripping their heart out or ripping the heart out of others! They live like Jack the Ripper! Not nice.
The Apostles did not fear moving forward in their spiritual life, even if it meant persecution and great suffering. But they did fear the thought of turning back. Why? Why is this so hard for us to understand? Could it be because we have yet to test it out on ourselves? Let’s do it! Let’s try it out for ourselves.
I know a group of kids that just did. They came from Ursuline Academy, Jesuit Prep, Bishop Lynch, Bishop Dunne and John Paul II High School. They went to Honduras to do missions. The weather was awful, the sweating was unbearable, the mosquitoes were humongous, the people were dirty, the food was disgusting, the work was nearly illegal (for children), the language was unspeakable, the timing couldn’t have been worse: during Summer! I warned them at the start of their mission preparation. “Oh the beatings and scourging you will have!!!” But I also told them about all the excitement and adventure and love they will experience.
So, how did it go? All the kids had an amazing time!
I heard that at the University of Creighton, medical students are advised not to go on mission trips. Why? Because over half of the students that do go end up leaving medical school for social service careers! Talk about shocking your parents!
Did you ever notice something about the Lord, how different He was from all the Jewish rabbis? Most rabbis taught their pupils the faith indoors, between four walls. Students would spend hours and hours studying sacred writings. Not the Lord and not his Apostles. They learned scripture on the road. I am not saying that scripture was not important. Of course it was. But what I am saying is that the Lord taught them the faith in the wheat fields, on the road, in the villages, in the street corners, in his interactions with the crippled, the lepers, the criminals and the sinners.
This is how the Lord taught His very own. This is how we need to teach our very own.
We all need to strive for a personal experience and relationship with the Lord, not just an intellectual relationship with the Lord. To know Jesus Christ intellectually is a very good place to start, and it should continue for a lifetime. But to know Jesus Christ, personally, is how we will cross the finish line.
English is not a very accommodating language. It is somewhat limited in its verbs, especially in the verb to know. We use only one verb to communicate to others that we know someone or something. That’s not good. “I know you” will never have the same depth or meaning as “I know math”. It’s simply not the same as well as truth. Most of the world knows this. That’s why most romantic languages have two verbs. In Spanish the verbs are saber and conoscer. The Spanish speaker would say, “Te conozco” (I know you) and “se matematicas” (I know math). They get it. They get the difference.
To know the Lord is one thing, but to know him personally is another matter.
Follow the Lord in all that he says and does and see what happens next. Do it. Try it. And not only will you know the Lord, but you will have a very personal experience with Him.