Matthew 10:16-23


The words of Jesus to his disciples in today’s gospel reading reflects the experience of the early church. Those first generations of believers were indeed handed over to the Jewish Sanhedrin and scourged in synagogues; they were dragged before pagan kings and governors and asked to give an account of their beliefs. Within the same family, they were those who professed faith in Jesus and those who did not, and, so, brother did betray brother to death, parents their children and children their parents. The kind of experience Jesus describes may seem somewhat remote from us and, yet, it is not far removed from the experience of many Christians today who live in a culture dominated by religious fundamentalism and intolerance. Even the secular culture, for all its espousal of liberalism and tolerance, can be very hostile to the public expression of religious belief, including the religious values of the gospel. We know that the values of the gospel are not always well regarded by the culture in which we live; many see those gospel values as a threat, especially a threat to a certain understanding of human freedom. Yet, Jesus reassures them that they will not have to face this hostile world on their own. The Holy Spirit will be given to them as a resource and will inspire their witness. The church is as dependant on the Holy Spirit today as it ever was. We all need to keep on asking for and opening our hearts to the gift of this Spirit, if we are to stand firm to the end, in our own time and place. We are just as much in need of the Holy Spirit today, as the first disciples were if we are to bear witness to the Lord and all he stands for. Now, more than ever is the time to witness courageously to this treasure in the power of the Spirit.