This is hard to admit but here it is. The second most common lie I tell (the most common is the “I have read and understand the terms and conditions” box) is “I’ll pray for you” or some variation of that sentence. I make the promise and then something hinders me. Maybe it is my own forgetfulness or my time for prayer gets rushed, etc. Why I fail to follow through is irrelevant. The reality is, my follow through in this regard does not match that of Jesus’ in today’s gospel.
To show you what I mean I need to point out a strangeness in today’s Gospel. If you look closely at the citation you will note that we are reading the transition of chapter 9 into 10 and that we omit verses. This is worth noting because it helps us appreciate that Christ truly delivers. Not merely in the sense of deliverance, but also in the sense of delivery. Jesus is a man of follow-through.
Take a moment to walk with me through this revelation of Jesus’ reliability. As our reading begins (and chapter 9 ends) Jesus tells His Disciples, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.” But He is also the Master, so He immediately begins to deliver by sending the Twelve. This is further illustrated by what our reading is missing.
First, our reading omits the ‘Apostolic List’ or the list of the Twelve. There is no confusion in Matthew that ‘His Twelve disciples’ are indeed the Twelve. They are the first of the laborers that Jesus just said were needed.
Second, our reading wraps up by verse 8. However, if one were to continue into verse 10, as Christ continues to describe the terms and conditions of His commissioning He calls the Twelve, “laborers.”
Jesus said laborers were needed and immediately sent twelve. Jesus is a man of reliable, follow-through. He is a man who delivers. And this is a conviction for me, and might be for you. Jesus convicts me to be like my friends who don’t say, “I’ll pray for you” but “Can we pray about that right now?” He convicts me as James does that, “If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,’ but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it?” (James 2:15-16). Jesus convicts me to deliver on my promises.
Jesus calls us to lives of follow-through. Not promises to pray, but prayer. Not promises to help,but the pursuit of justice and charity. Not promises to change, but repentance. Not promises to look into religion sometime before I die, but discipleship.
This is what St. Francis Xavier knew. This is what makes a saint and makes a disciple. Not the promise, but the follow-through. This is what makes a sacrament. Jesus doesn’t merely promise to be with us, He makes himself present to us in the Sacraments. So if we are going to be Sacraments of Peace, its all about the follow-through.
– Spencer Hargadon