The Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Exodus 19: 2-6 + Psalm 100 + 1 Romans 5: 6-11 + Matthew 9: 36 – 10: 8

June 18, 2023 at Saint Peter the Apostle Church in Naples, Fl

The last verse of this Gospel leaves me stunned and for me it suggests what God may ask of me when I stand for judgement. I don’t know how you could not feel the same way. The translation we just used said: “Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.” That complicated choice of words might be an excuse for missing the point. When you start to think of it more simply it means: “The gift you received, give as a gift.” That is a command, not wish or a hope. It is a command given to disciples of Jesus Christ. If you count yourself in as a disciple, then you know what to do with your life, you know your vocation and what God expects of you.

A problem comes when we forget that everything is a gift and begin to think that we somehow earned something or deserve something. That is foolishness at its best. If we have something, it may be because we worked for it, but what we have to work with is still a gift, and without that gift we would have nothing, and perhaps be nothing.

Jesus speaks of a harvest today and longs for someone to bring it in. The harvest is good, and it’s time for the harvest. It is ready to be reaped. Yet, we wait. We wait all the time. It started early. We waited to get through High School. We waited to get through that day of graduation from college and get that job thinking the time had come for bearing fruit and enjoying it. Some get married thinking that someday I’ll have kids, then someday they’ll grow up, and I will reap the harvest. Retirement comes. What do we do? We do what we have learned, we wait and postpone once again. What we have learned is how not to harvest.

Listen to what Jesus expects from this harvest time now: “Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers drive out demons.” That’s not some body else’s job. We all heard it just now. He said it to each of us today. 

The walking dead who think there is no point, no promise, no possibility can be called from their tombs by our hope and our encouragement. There are still lepers among us, shunned, outcast and undesired. They may be gay, foreigners, homeless, mentally ill, whatever. They long for our welcome. Spells cast on our children who are obsessed with trinkets, social media, and all kinds of illusions are ready to be broken. Our children need to be set free. How is this done, we might wonder. Well, not by postponing or waiting for someone else. Those disciples were all those people were going to get, and some in this world get only you and me.

Faith, Hope, and Charity are a resource that is renewable. Faith, Hope, and Charity are the gifts we have received. The more we share them, the greater they become. Those first disciples had no idea when they set out how to do what was asked of them, and that may have been for the best because, they did not have a plan or a program. They just went out and were present to anyone they came upon. 

In our day and age, it always seems like we have to have a program to solve every problem. Even the church sometimes thinks that way. We have to have program for converts, for engaged couples, for Confirmation. Those programs are nothing without someone to simply be there for others, to sit and listen, to wait, and watch. I never think we can program the Holy Spirit nor scheduled the Spirit’s work.

However, it is time for the harvest, and today we have received our instructions: give as a gift the gift you received.

Father Tom Boyer