Homily for the eleventh Sunday of the year - Year A - Mt. 9:36-10:8
 
 
by
 
Canon Dr. Daniel Meynen
 
 
 
" When Jesus saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, «The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.»
 
" And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every infirmity.
 
" The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
 
" These twelve Jesus sent out, charging them, «Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And preach as you go, saying, "The kingdom of heaven is at hand." Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying, give without pay.» "
 
 
 
Homily:
 
 
" When Jesus saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. "
 
Near my home is a beauty parlor called: "Perfect in Body." Will our body ever be perfect? The further we advance in time, the older we get. And as we get older, does our body not become more imperfect? In the Church, the inverse of this phenomenon takes place: the Body of Christ, the Church, ceaselessly advances toward its perfection, which it will achieve when all the elect of God will belong to it, when Christ will return to the earth (cf. Eph. 4:13).
 
Jesus often makes use of corporeal images when he speaks of the Kingdom of God. And he is right to do so. For how can we speak of an essentially spiritual Kingdom, the Church, without using a perfectly complementary image, an essentially corporeal image? For, far from opposing each other, the spiritual and the corporeal complete each other and join together in that composite entity that is the human being, whether man or woman.
 
The human being is made in such a way that he can more easily grasp a spiritual notion through a corporeal image, and vice versa. For example, someone who has lost his sight will use his imagination to compose in his mind the view of a landscape that is described to him. And Jesus makes use of the notion of sheep without a shepherd, or of laborers who are to work in the field of the householder, to help us understand what the Kingdom of God is ...
 
" Then he said to his disciples, «The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.» "
 
Jesus makes use of various images: the flock of sheep, the field of wheat to be harvested, the fishing net full of big fish, and so on. These are images of living things, for Jesus comes to give us the Life of his Father, his own divine Life, through the gift of grace. The Church is a people of men and women who live not of human life alone, but also, and above all, of the very Life of God!
 
However, there are a few exceptions among the images: the rock, the temple of God, or even the pearl of great price we are not to cast before swine. These are images of the Church that is already risen in Christ, the Church that is nourished with the Bread of Life, the Eucharist. For, in this image, the Church has already undergone death and is, as it were, without life: the Church is represented by an inanimate corporeal being, for she has just undergone death, and she awaits her complete resurrection in Christ, at the end of time!
 
" These twelve Jesus sent out, charging them, «Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And preach as you go, saying, "The kingdom of heaven is at hand." Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying, give without pay.» "
 
The lost sheep of the house of Israel are Jesus' favorites! Why? Simply because they are Jews, like Jesus! Because, with the Messiah, they are but a single body, a single nation! Of course, the mere fact of being Jews does not make these people disciples of Jesus: it is only their spiritual faith, through the grace of God, that can save them. But they remain privileged sheep, having a privileged relationship with Christ: that of the body!
 
" And preach as you go, saying, «The kingdom of heaven is at hand.» "
 
If the images Jesus used to speak of the Kingdom of God are corporeal and material, it is, finally, in order to allow the Holy Spirit to act in us and to place in our spirit a certain spiritual knowledge of the Kingdom of God. For "this is eternal life, that they know thee the only true God" (Jn. 17:3)! May the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, who is the Spouse of the Holy Spirit, be our mediatrix before the Heart of Jesus! Amen!
 

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