Wednesday, July 11, 2018

“Laborers Deserve Their Keep” by Beth DeCristofaro

“Laborers Deserve Their Keep” by Beth DeCristofaro

My heart is overwhelmed, my pity is stirred. I will not give vent to my blazing anger, I will not destroy Ephraim again; For I am God and not man,
the Holy One present among you; I will not let the flames consume you.
(Hosea 11:8-9)

Jesus said to his Apostles: “As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, drive out demons. Without cost you have received; without cost, you are to give. Do not take gold or silver or copper for your belts; no sack for the journey, or a second tunic, or sandals, or walking stick. The laborer deserves his keep. (Matthew 10:7-10)

Lord Jesus, Brother and Friend, I cannot do this alone. The weight of my life is, at times, more than I can bear. Help me turn back to you and bring with me those most in need of your care.

Hosea warned Israel that turning away, again and again, from its covenant with God would result in destruction. Hosea uses images of an unfaithful wife, forgiving husband but also warm, nurturing parental love: it was I who taught Ephraim to walk, who took them in my arms (Hosea 11:3) which would guide, support and eventually rescue God’s Chosen from harm. God gave and gives continually out of boundless desire to be present in our lives.

So much so does God intend to be present that Jesus walked among us and knew first hand how to achieve the tasks he assigned to the Apostles. He knows most importantly how to give without expectation of reward (or without a closet full of shoes!) Jesus often declared that He was here for his Father’s glory not his own and that his mandate originated in God. Also, he frequently sought out personal, alone quiet time to renew his relationship with God, feel God’s arm around him and to hear God’s voice guiding him how and where to walk.

Today, in the footsteps of the Apostles, we also are charged with being Jesus to our neighbors. For our labors the community of the Church and the Sacraments allow us to experience Jesus’ presence in tangible moments. We are kept and nurtured by the Holy Spirit who infuses our journeys with the perceptible, abiding presence of God. As Jesus declared:  ‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.’

How might we more prayerfully join the Apostles in curing the sick, raising the dead, cleansing lepers, driving out demons without seeking praise or pay? While it might feel that miracle-making is beyond us, we can certainly assist and visit people who are infirm. We can open our doors and our nation to the “other” even the “illegal” who seeks refuge. We might offer non-judgmental comfort to people who feel dead through depression, estrangement or despair. We can support people controlled by addictions or damaged by their isolating anger.

Illustration: “Doorways to the Kingdom of Heaven”, Damien Hirst, 2007

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