Dear Friends in Christ –
The Lectionary Gospel readings land us back in Matthew for the rest of the year, and our text for this Sunday is Matthew 9:35-10:8. If you get a chance to read it before Sunday, read it slowly, and just pay attention. What pops out for you? What do you find confusing? How does the text connect - or not - with our lives today?
One of the things that grabs me in this text is in verse 36: “when Jesus saw the crowds, he had compassion on them….” Jesus cared about people. Com + passion = to suffer with. Jesus felt their pain. His gut ached for them. His heart went out to them.
There have been times when followers of Jesus have excelled at embracing the compassionate way of Jesus.
Some years ago I came across the words of one historian recalling “the dark times in ancient Roman history when city-wide epidemics wiped out whole sections of the population. The empire did its best to quarantine those sections of the cities, though the remaining people were abandoned to a slow and painful death. The only people willing to risk their lives to care for these suffering souls were Christians. Many of them flocked to the areas most infected and literally gave their lives to care for the dead and dying. This heroic example was one reason the empire took a second look at Christianity.” Wow. Jesus-like compassion is evangelistic!
So what does this mean for us today?
The historian I quoted above kind of gets in our faces when goes on to suggest that it means that “Christians at their best must concern themselves less with the church’s institutional survival, or even their own survival, and more with the welfare of those who are suffering.”
If that sounds a teensy bit overwhelming, maybe we could just start by letting our hearts go out to one person today.
And day by day let’s keep figuring out how to…
Be the church!