YOU RECEIVED WITHOUT CHARGE, GIVE WITHOUT CHARGE
SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ HOSEA 11:1-4. 8-9; MT 10:7-15 ]
In the first reading, we read of the gracious love of God for Israel. “When Israel was a child I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt. I led with reins of kindness, with leading-strings of love. I was like someone who lifts an infant close against his cheek; stooping down to him I gave him his food.” God has chosen us unconditionally, not because of any merit of ours. He treats us like His sons and daughters. He loves us as our Father and mother. He provides for all our needs. We are what we are today because of His divine providence. Indeed, when we look at our lives, we know that the Lord has always been there for us, otherwise, we would not be where we are today. We only have His love to thank for. But often we fail to realize that without His love, we would not be where we are. “I myself taught Ephraim to walk, I took them in my arms; yet they have not understood that I was the one looking after them.”
But God is also a faithful and merciful God. We betray His love for us again and again. Like little children, we tend to take the love of our parents for granted. We make promises to be true to God and be obedient to Him if He grants us our petition. But in a short while, we forget our promises. We go back to the old way of life, not obeying His will. We are forgetful of His love for us. This is what the Lord experienced in His people. “But the more I called to them, the further they went from me; they have offered sacrifice to the Baals and set their offerings smoking before the idols.” Instead of worshipping God, we worship the idols of our lives. We get attached to the world like the rest of humanity instead of serving God alone.
Most of all, God is a forgiving God. “My heart recoils from it, my whole being trembles at the thought. I will not give rein to my fierce anger, I will not destroy Ephraim again, for I am God, not man: I am the Holy One in your midst and have no wish to destroy.” This God is a God who always forgives. He does not take into account our sins. He is ever ready to show mercy and clemency to us when we are repentant. God knows us because His Son became man and He could identify with us in our temptations and struggles. That is why Christ is our compassionate High Priest who continuously intercedes for us before our heavenly Father.
In the face of such a loving and merciful God, what must we do? We must continue the mission of Jesus in proclaiming the Good News in words and deeds. “Jesus instructed the Twelve as follows: ‘As you go, proclaim that the kingdom of heaven is close at hand. Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out devils. You received without charge, give without charge.” Just as we have received freely His love and mercy, we desire to extend what we have undeservedly received to others. This is the beginning of our mission. We are to produce the signs of faith. Curing the sick, healing the lepers and setting people free from the bondage of the devil are means to proclaim the continued presence of God in our midst, lest we think that He is no longer present in the world.
But this proclamation of the gospel must be given freely. How can we always love freely and give freely? The truth is that after some time, we begin to be calculating in what we do for others. Our love is no longer free but given conditionally. We serve those who are helpful or good to us. We serve those who support us. We give our time and services only to our friends, our benefactors. We are not easily available to those whom we do not know or are not supportive of us and our programs. If that is the case, then we are no better than the pagans because they too care for each other. That is why we must always be watchful of preachers and teachers who are out to enrich themselves and who show themselves to be equally attached to the world. Just by using God’s name to get what they want does not mean that they come from God. We must be wary of them if they always talk about money and their needs. They should be the least concerned about money. Instead, their priority should be to make the Good News heard and seen through their works of mercy and compassion.
To give without charge, we need to be constantly receiving without charge. We need to continue to receive His love. This can happen only if we do not depend on ourselves and hard work alone. That is why true preachers of the gospel live simply because their only concern is to alleviate the sufferings of their fellowmen and not to fall into desire for worldly things. By living simply, we know that our lives are dependent on God alone. It is the experience of helplessness and uncertainty of our needs tomorrow that we can receive everything from the Lord with gratitude and wonderment. And God often surprises us when we least expect. How often in times of difficulty and challenges, when we felt so helpless, that God sent HIs angels to help us out. We only need to trust in Him.
This dependence on divine providence is what the Lord wanted His disciples to go through so that they would know His love and power. Hence, He said, “Provide yourselves with no gold or silver, not even with a few coppers for your purses, with no haversack for the journey or spare tunic or footwear or a staff, for the workman deserves his keep.” The more we experience His marvellous works in our lives, the greater is our trust in Him. The greater the confidence in Him, the stronger is our faith when we reach out to those who need the healing grace of God. Our prayers will be more fervent and faith-filled and our works will be more effective. With the psalmist we pray with faith. “O shepherd of Israel, hear us, shine forth from your cherubim throne. O Lord, rouse up your might, O Lord, come to our help. God of hosts, turn again, we implore, look down from heaven and see. Visit this vine and protect it, the vine your right hand has planted.”
But it is not enough to be free in giving the Good News. We must also allow the freedom of response. Because the Good News is given freely, it must be freely received. It cannot be imposed. “And if anyone does not welcome you or listen to what you have to say, as you walk out of the house or town shake the dust from your feet. I tell you solemnly, on the day of Judgement it will not go as hard with the land of Sodom and Gomorrah as with that town.” We should not be offended if people reject the Good News. If we do, it is because our pride is hurt. This is the way God regards us as He did with Israel who rejected Him for the idols. Instead, we should love them even more.
Indeed, by being peacemakers and life-bringers, we bring life to ourselves and to our beneficiaries. “Whatever town or village you go into, ask for someone trustworthy and stay with him until you leave. As you enter his house, salute it, and if the house deserves it, let your peace descend upon it; if it does not, let your peace come back to you.” Peace begets peace, love begets love. This is the rule of life. What we give to others, we receive in return. In blessing others, we are blessed in return.
Written by The Most Rev William Goh, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore © All Rights Reserved
Best Practices for Using the Daily Scripture Reflections
- Encounter God through the spirit of prayer and the scripture by reflecting and praying the Word of God daily. The purpose is to bring you to prayer and to a deeper union with the Lord on the level of the heart.
- Daily reflections when archived will lead many to accumulate all the reflections of the week and pray in one sitting. This will compromise your capacity to enter deeply into the Word of God, as the tendency is to read for knowledge rather than a prayerful reading of the Word for the purpose of developing a personal and affective relationship with the Lord.
- It is more important to pray deeply, not read widely. The current reflections of the day would be more than sufficient for anyone who wants to pray deeply and be led into an intimacy with the Lord.
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