In today’s Gospel, we see something powerful in Jesus’ commission to the Apostles. He sends them into into the world, to call people to repentance and then to heal the sick and cast out demons. He gives them the power to represent Him and to lead people to what the Catechism of the Catholic Church describes as a whole new way of acting. They are to preach a whole new way of being to the generation of Judah at the time. In other words, Jesus appoints the apostles to teach the communities they go to let go of what takes them away from knowing Christ and then to separate them from those things by default that dehumanized them. So the apostles went out, proclaimed the kingdom, commanded people to repent of their sins and then led them to freedom in Christ.
Note, what is first is the call to repentance and if we are to strengthen the Church’s mission and our part in it we must first call people to repentance from sin starting with ourselves.
The worst sin is rationalization. This is the sin that says it is ok to commit any other sin because “I am special.” It is the most dangerous sin because it is part of pride: the door to all other sins. This is why we need to get a good sense of sin, so that we can recognize sin in our own life. Why, because Jesus explains to his apostles that holding on to sin is a wall against freedom in Christ. When we first understand and teach repentance, we bring freedom from those things that oppress us and those that blind us to the power Christ works through us and in us.
When we name and confess the sin, Christ gives us power over it and its debilitating affects: Missing Mass, drug abuse, sex outside of marriage, engaging in occult practices including astrology, bullying, spreading false rumors about someone, living beyond your means. It is good to know that these are sins and if we practice any of them to acknowledge them, confess them and get them out of our lives because doing that opens the door for God’s grace to transform us.
What does he want to transform us to? To be light to the world and salt of the Earth.
This is the untold truth of Christianity. The saints will tell you that when you turn from sin and turn to Christ in prayer you are transformed body and soul. This completely changes your understanding of the world around and it shows you a new way of being.
Once this begins to happen, you enter a relationship with Christ which leads to knowing Him in your life more and more and this is what transforms you. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that we experience the wellspring of the Holy Spirit in our life, which leads us to grow more and more in prayer. (CCC 2652)This is the whole key to Catholicism. We turn from sin and we turn to Christ in prayer. That prayer grows from simple rote prayers to living in such a way that we speak to God as we would a good friend, which is what St Alphonsus Liguori taught. We grow to the point that we experience Christ in a transforming way in our prayer. This does not necessarily mean we feel Christ’s presence some do not, but they see the fruit of their prayer in their lives in ways they could not imagine. It is a healing from the sinful ways and a transformation into where Christ is leading us.
This is the reason why we turn from sin, because it is sin that blocks our ability to know God. The more we turn from sin, the more we experience being with Christ and that experience grows in our life.
However, even though that is central to our faith and it is taught in the Catechism of the Catholic Church it is often not taught in every day Catholic life. That is a grave omission.
Prayer gives us a whole new way of looking at the world around us and responding to it as we should.
Our mission is to be signs of an alternative to the teachings of the world. The alternative means calling sin, ‘sin’ so that we can call freedom, ‘freedom’ and we call that which is human, ‘human’ for we worship the true God who wants us to be fully human and fully alive.
This is what today’s message is all about. People experienced the power of the Gospel through the disciples when they welcomed them into their villages and listened to their call for repentance. Then they were healed of that which no one could heal them and be freed from those forces that were oppressing them.
However, there is another side here. Jesus warns against those who reject the teaching of the apostles. They will not be so healed or so free and will become victims to their own way of thinking which will imprison them in false hopes and desires.
These are places where they choose their own sin over the enlightenment that Christ gives to us and freedom he gives to us.
Jesus tells the apostles to leave the town and shake the dust from their feet. Why? That is a curse on that town. It is God’s judgement because they rejected the gift of life and freedom.
You have that gift of freedom as disciples of Christ, that is why it is so important to acknowledge sin and turn from it more and more while turning more to Christ. It is essential that you pray for that wellspring of the Holy Spirit to continue to grow in you. Something that you may not feel but will transform you in ways previously unseen by you.
It enlightens you in Christ and allows you to see more of the world around you as Christ wants you to see it. That is so you can understand it as you grow in your mission
be salt of the Earth, light of the world. It is your mission to enlighten your family and let your family enlighten your neighbors, let your neighbors enlighten your community which is the mission Christ has for all of us to do.
It all begins with acknowledging our sin, turning from it and growing as enlightened disciples of Christ to others as we continue to journey to the Kingdom of God calling others to join us.