MATTHEW 10:24-39 (10:16-20)
ST. AUGUSTINE’S EPISCOPAL CHURCH
THE REVEREND BARRY GRIFFIN
This morning’s gospel is a continuation of last Sundays’ gospel. In these two passages Jesus sends out his twelve disciples to minister and share the Good News of the Kingdom of God. He commissions them, and along with this commission he gives specific instructions. This is a teaching gospel, a manual for ministry, both for the twelve disciples and for us.
Last Sunday Jesus said, “See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles… When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.”
Do not worry about how you are to speak. Do not worry about what you are to say. What you are to say will be given to you at that time.
In other words, it’s not about you. It’s about the Spirit of God speaking through you.
The Spirit of God will be with you.
We’ve all heard stories of ordinary people who, in moments of crisis, perform extraordinary deeds: the bystander who, without thinking, heroically saves the life of a person in danger; the ninety pound mother who lifts a car to free her trapped infant.
These things happen. In times of crisis people do things they could not do beforehand, things they will not be able to do afterward. It seems to work like this: we get what we need in the moment we need it, not before, and not after.
Have you ever looked at someone face to face and thought, “I could never do what you are doing. I could never be so brave, or true, or faithful, or whatever.”
I have thought these things numerous times. I have seen people courageously endure physical pain without self-pity. I have seen parents bury children without blaming God or others. I have seen people face death head-on without fear or complaint. I have seen people forgive the unforgivable.
When I see such people I think to myself and sometimes say out loud: “I could never do what you are doing, ever.” From what they tell me, I know I’m right. They tell me only God can do such things. When faced with the infinite challenges of life, it is grace, God’s grace, which carries us through.
We cannot prepare for such moments. As Jesus told his disciples long ago, and as he tells us today, “do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you at that time.”
At that time. Not before, and not after.
We get what we need when we need it. Grace comes not a moment too soon. In the meantime, our anxieties drive us. We want to be ready, we want to be prepared. Yet there are many things in life for which we cannot prepare, except by learning to trust.
We get what we need when we need it. Grace comes not a moment too soon. In the meantime, don’t worry. Learn to trust. God’s spirit, will be with you.
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