This day’s scriptures include the story of Jacob and his dealings with Laban. Laban is his maternal uncle and father of this two wives. Laban is kind of a jerk, but Jacob is not above playing games with Laban. Eventually, Jacob has to head back to the promised land and face his brother Esau, who he tricked out of his birthright. Gen. 28-31:16
In Matthew we have the calling of the twelve disciples. This comes after he has given the Sermon on the Mount and after he has done a lot of healing. The number of healing stories interest me. I recognize that the Bible was written by people, and that the Gospels were written long after Jesus’ death. I just can’t help but wonder why some many specific healing stories if he didn’t bring comfort, in some fashion, to the blind and the lame.
The majority of the Gospel reading for this day focused on the Missionary Discourse in which Jesus tells the twelve how to conduct themselves when out spreading the Good News. First, Jesus makes it clear to whom the message is to be delivered, “”Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel.” Matt. 10:5-6. The disciples are to heal and cast out demons and raise the dead, just like Jesus, but they are not to put up with people who want to argue. “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town.” Id. at 14. Jesus warns his followers to expect trouble from the authorities and then closes with this little number from versus 32-39:
Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven. Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn
“a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law
a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.”
Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
I don’t mind telling you this is some rough stuff. On the easy side, Jesus is telling his disciples that this is going to be a tough journey. Don’t expect people to just accept the Gospel of love and hope. On the rough side, it starts to sound like a cult. But, I guess that is the point. The Gospel of love is in fact a radical idea and people can be expected to react to it as such.