Saturday of the First Week of Advent
The strategy of Jesus
At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.” Then he summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out and to cure every disease and every illness. As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons. Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.Mt 9,36-10,1.7-8
Today we are faced with the passage of the gospel which best highlights the strategy of Jesus to put in practice the plan of universal salvation. This is an infinitely more far-sighted strategic plan of those, though significant, that by the nowadays time Henry Ford and Bill Gates have implemented to launch the business plans of the car and computer for everybody. Jesus, as Messiah, was rejected by the religious authority of the Palestine, hence since time he addresses to the “ crowds …troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd”. In the passage today, however, he begins to implement his final missionary strategy. As a first step he asks his disciples to pray “the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest!”. Then, to take care of each person in the crowd, he organizes a group of twelve men, to whom he gives the name of apostles and he decides to dedicate the time necessary to their training. They, after his death on the cross and resurrection, will begin the work of salvation of the multitudes. This group of laborers into his harvest was the first embryo of the Church. They follow him, they listen to him and they live with him for some time, so, in the today’s gospel, he sends them to carry on with the first mission experience, after awarding to them “authority over unclean spirits to drive them out and cure every disease and every ilness”. These two moments of living in community with Jesus and then of going out on a mission, constitute also by the present time the strategy of the Church. They, although distinct, are inseparable and they should never be confused by reducing one in favour of the other. If both do not coexist, we fall or in a faith disembodied from the reality of the world, or in a mere blind and vacuum effectiveness. This latter approach seems to be the predominant defect in the Church of our time, very dedicated to the social issues, but perhaps not sufficiently supported by the prayer and the strength of the faith.