I suspect that when many of us hear this kind of talk about being sent, about being called to go out to be part of the mission of Jesus, that we get very uncomfortable about that. We’re like, yeah, you know, that’s fine for the good sisters; that’s fine, maybe even for those crazy priests at the front of the church. Maybe for the members of St Vincent de Paul, that’s great for them to go and to knock on people’s doors to be bearers of God’s love. But for us? Nah, you know I’m not worthy to do that kind of thing – surely that’s for someone else to do that, that’s for somebody else that is able to be the very presence of God. Because for so many of us, I suspect we just feel so utterly unworthy, incapable of of being an image bearer of God.
How can we be a bearer of the love of God? How can we be someone that shares the good news about Jesus? That’s surely for someone else to do and I’m sure that Israel felt much the same. You know, when Israel was addressed by Moses as he gathered all of the community, all of the different nations, all of the people that had come together there and before the mountain of the Lord, before Mount Horeb, or Mount Sinai. And Moses received this word to speak to the people, and Moses said to them these words of the Lord. He said, out of all of the nations I have called you, I have chosen you.
And the word that is there in the Hebrew is not very well translated in the Jerusalem Bible that we use at Mass at the moment. It’s not just say, a special object. The word is Segullah and it’s dedicated to those things that are used by the king, those things that are used by the royalty, those special possessions, those treasured objects that are used by the royalty, and that’s the way that the Lord addresses the people. This ragtag bunch of people that we know from reading the story before in just a few pages, they’re going to turn away from the Lord even though they said yes, we will be faithful to your commandments, we will do everything that you have told us to do. First chance they get, once Moses goes up on the mountain. They build an idol, they break the first two commandments, and yet God addresses this community as my Segullah: you are my treasured possession.
How often do you feel that you are the treasured possession of God that the Lord has called you and invited you into such a place? And Paul addresses it tonight also in our wonderful letter, the second reading from the letters the Romans, when he says, Jesus died for us. Not after we had done anything that was worthy or good or we were able to point to and say yeah, look at all these amazing things that we have done. These are the things that prove that we’re able to be the bearers of God. No, Paul says, it’s when we were still sinners. When we’ve done nothing that was anything that was good or worthy. It was exactly in that place that Jesus died for us. And again, I think a lot of us find that hard to believe. You know, we think, yeah, you know, the the little sins. How they commit God might forgive those, but the really big ones. No, I I don’t think that God is capable of really forgiving those, let alone that he wants to. And I’m sure that the disciples were also feeling like that when they get to this certain place and Jesus looks out and sees the crowd. What’s the emotion that he has? That’s the experience that he has. He feels I’m just sorry. He has. He’s moved with compassion for the people. Why? Because they were like sheep without a shepherd. Shepherd is one of those images that we often see in the Hebrew scriptures.
Often they’re related. You know that Israel was often like a sheep without a shepherd. And so Jesus has this compassion of the word move means that he was moved in the depths of his bowels in the very depths of his gut. He felt this this need to be there for this, these people and he’s moved to, to teach to her. But he’s also moved to send out the disciples because Jesus, as amazing as he was, couldn’t be in every place at once. He needed those disciples. He needed them to also be part of this ministry. He needed them to go and to preach and to proclaim and to announce. And to be the bearers of his love as well. And it’s here, only here in the Gospel of Matthew, that the disciples are. Called apostles, the ones who were sent disciples simply means someone who is a learner, someone who’s a student, someone as disciples. We make mistakes, we get things wrong.
You don’t expect that every student will get 100% on every test. You presume that we’ll make mistakes and learning by making mistakes is part of the process of being a disciple, but an apostle is someone who is sent. But I know whether you noticed, but Matthew, when he lists the 12 apostles, doesn’t just give a random sort of of listing of. He groups them together. Every single apostle there has a companion, someone that they go out with. So it’s not just a group of 12 individuals who go out. He sends them out six pairs of apostles because we need someone else. To be with us, to share on this journey, because I will give up. I will feel faint. I will get annoyed and frustrated and disappointed and depressed and and I will think that this is not worth worthy. This is not. I’m not able to be there.
So we need someone that when I’m feeling down, hopefully they’re feeling a bit perky and that they can give me the encouragement that I need and when they’re feeling a bit sad and a bit lonely, then I can be there to offer the encouragement with them, you know, to be an apostle, to be a disciple, to be someone who is a bearer of God’s love. We cannot. Ever do that? Alone, we need a community. We need others who are there. Part of this journey with us, and I think that’s part of this experience of being an Apostolic Church, being a community of missionary disciples is learning to be with others, to learning, to have friends that we can go on this journey with. People that can encourage us, people that we can share our lives with, people that we can be honest with, people that know when we’re struggling, people that can pray for us, people that we can pray for. All of these things are necessary for us to grow in our faith and in in others in our discipleship.
So today, we’re invited to be the treasured possessions of God to be the Segullah to be those people, the God. Even though we’ve sinned, even though we’ve made mistakes, even though we get things wrong. God is still there calling us and inviting, inviting us as his treasured possessions to be the ones who are the bearers of his love to go and to announce whatever we do. It doesn’t matter how eloquent we are, it doesn’t matter whether we’ve got all of the best theology in the world. We don’t have to have an advanced degree in order to be able. To do this is simply about being a witness to the love that we’ve received, the life that we’ve been given, and to share that goodness and that love with those around us. Let’s pray that we will be able to respond today. Let’s pray that we will understand that we are the treasured possessions of God, and that even when we were sinners. That Jesus still chose to die for us because he loves us that much and he’s wanting to share that love with us every day of our lives.