Sunday Connection – Loyola Press –
We read today’s Gospel in the context of last week’s Gospel in which Jesus sent the twelve disciples to proclaim the kingdom of heaven. In between last week’s reading and today’s reading, Jesus has predicted that the disciples will face difficulties in their mission. Many people will not receive them well, even within the land of Israel. Even family members will turn away from the disciples because of the disciples’ commitment to Jesus and the kingdom. Today’s Gospel offers the disciples consolation against this difficult truth.
This section of Matthew’s Gospel should be read in the context of Matthew’s intended audience, a Jewish-Christian community. The Gospel alludes to the dangers and persecutions that this community has most likely already faced and will continue to face. To reassure this community, Matthew recalls for them the encouraging words of Jesus that we read today.
In this Gospel passage, Jesus might be understood as putting suffering in perspective. The disciples of Jesus are called upon to keep their focus on God. Those who can harm the body do not have ultimate power; God does. Still persecution and suffering can not be avoided or prevented. But Jesus reassures his disciples that God knows and cares about what happens to his children.
We might not face the same type of persecution, but we do experience difficulties as we endeavor to live a Christian life. Sometimes we let the opinions of others prevent us from doing what we know to be right. We need the reminder that what God thinks about us is more important. We are reassured by the promise that God cares for us and protects us.