Wednesday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time

The Father sent the Son to the children of Israel to fulfill his promises to them.  As we read the Gospels, we see how Jesus is focused first on the Jewish people.  They would largely reject him.  Their leaders would arrange to have him crucified.  Nonetheless, he came first to them.

Today’s Gospel gives us another example of this.  Jesus sends out the Apostles and tells them, “Do not go into pagan territory or enter a Samaritan town.  Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

The Catechism tells us that the Jewish faith is already a response to God’s revelation in the Old Covenant.  It says, “To the Jews ‘belong the sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ”; “for the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable.’”

And every Good Friday, we pray for the Jewish people in the Solemn Intercessions:

         “Let us pray also for the Jewish people,

         to whom the Lord our God spoke first,

         that he may grant them to advance in love of his name

         and in faithfulness to his covenant.”

We translate today’s passage as the Apostles being sent to the “lost” sheep of Israel.  But they are more than merely lost.  The Greek word used means destroyed, or even slain.  It is not just about guiding them back onto a path.  It is about healing them and restoring them to life.

Of course, Jesus ministry was ultimately universal.  When some Greeks came to Jesus in the Gospel of John and ask to see Jesus, it was at that moment that Jesus announced that his hour had come.  It is at the end of that chapter that Jesus ended his public ministry and began the discourses in the Upper Room before his Passion.

While Jesus limited the Apostles’ mission initially to the Jewish people, our mission is universal.  At the end of Matthew, we find the Great Commissioning: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations…”

We are thankful that God came in the Person of Jesus Christ to save all peoples.  That God wills that all be saved.  This is a message of hope that the world needs to hear so that all might receive this gift of salvation.  Some might still choose otherwise.  But we bring this message into the world to all peoples.  And we offer an alternative to the ways of this world that is so desperately needed.