Jesus Sends Out the Twelve (Matthew 9:36-10:8)


This passage from Matthew is read on the feast day of the Holy Apostles (30 June). We read that Christ sent out the Twelve on their first apostolic mission and about how they were given power over demons and even the power to raise the dead! But Christ reminds them to accept these gifts in humility because every good thing given to them (and to us) is not their own, but a free gift of God’s grace. This is why the Apostles and all the Saints never sold their gifts. In gratitude to God, they gave freely to all men, using their gifts for the benefit of others without expecting anything in return.

It is worth noting when reading this passage that the twelve Apostles were not selected on their individual merits, nor did Christ grant them the powers He did because of any distinction they had achieved. Many of them were simple fishermen. Matthew himself is not ashamed to identify himself as “the tax collector”. Included in the list is even Judas Iscariot. This serves to remind us that the gifts which God bestows on us in His great love do not make us invincible. The gifts given to Judas were no different to those given to the other disciples. He cast out demons and performed miracles along with them, but he did not respond to Christ’s love with gratitude. Instead, he chose to reject and betray Jesus.

But why did Christ need to send the Apostles out at all? Could He not have sent His angels to the people, or provided salvation to those who received the Apostles without human help? Indeed this would have been possible for God, but everything He does is out of love for us. We read at the start of the passage that “He was moved with compassion” (v 36), and this is why He emptied Himself, become man and suffered on the cross for our sake. He lifted up our human nature from our fallen state up to the heavens. Beyond this passage, and after His ascension, He left behind for us His Apostles who had lived with Him and who had seen His glory.

The Apostles sealed God’s plan for our salvation by handing down to us the teachings of Christ, the Holy Spirit and the Mysteries of the Church. They made God’s presence permanently accessible to all the faithful, passing their gifts on through the Saints of every generation, and ultimately through us today. This is the grand tradition from which we as Christians are called to partake.


Source: Lychnos June 2018 / July 2018