A True Disciples Is A “Little One”
Jesus continues with his discourse to the apostles and disciples before they go out two by two to preach the gospel (Matthew 10: 37- 42). He says some very beautiful and strong things to them. First of all, he says, “Follow behind me,” implying do not get in front of me. It is an invitation not only to imitate him but to be wherever he is or might be; to serve him in whatever task is at hand. It is a call not to bring Jesus into my life, but something much greater: he opens the door to you so you can be part of his life. It is not to make room for him, but to renounce everything so I can be inserted into him, and his mission. It is like St. Paul says, “I live no longer I, but Christ lives in me.” I don’t sense we are ready for this today but hopefully before you and I die we can say this since we aspire to be a disciple of Christ, no?
Whoever welcomes one sent by God so deeply into his home and heart that he becomes part of the family. God’s favor is given also to those who help a man of God, as we saw in the first reading (2 Kings 4: 8-16). In the final book of the Odyssey, the suitors were doomed because it did not cross their minds that the beggar could be the Lord of Ithaka, Odysseus. So they acted shamelessly in his presence. If Christ were walking among us today would we treat him any differently from those who come in his name? Every priest, deacon, catechist comes in the name of the bishop; he comes in the name of God. St. Paul said to the Galatians one of his highest compliments, “You welcomed me as you welcomed Christ.” Every man of God brings the good news and the Eucharist to us, how do you welcome him?
1,500 priests, seminarians and families who are on mission (and over 18 years of age) will go two by two as the gospel says with nothing in their pockets except a return ticket home. They have been formed by the Neocatechumenal Way, which also exists at St. Joe’s and is a key component of the Church’s ability to carry out the New Evangelization that the recent Popes have all been calling for. I hope you know some people involved and how important this way of Christian initiation into the faith is for us today.
Those who go out without any money in their pocket are the “little ones.” In the gospel Jesus is referring to the apostles and disciples. The little ones are in some sense prophetic, weak men or women who are authentic representatives of Christ himself. I hope you have a deep desire to be a disciple of Christ in this generation, and in this parish. But you will need to become little to be a true disciple of Christ. You and I need to be humble.
The world has no use for “little ones.” The consequence of being a real disciple is that such a person will be small, maybe lonely, of no account in the world. In a sense they have become icons of Jesus Christ: a man of sorrows, rejected by the world and sustained by the Father. They go out to give everything and ask for nothing but open hearts. They not only preach the gospel, but they become the gospel. Their nature is to be messengers who embody the king. This is our mission as well. Let us embrace it with joy!