Friday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time
(Hosea 14:2-10; Matthew 10:16-23)
Last year twenty-six Church workers across the world died violent deaths. Few can be considered actual martyrs, but in all probability most were staked out because there were serving Christ. Eighteen were priests, six were religious sisters, and four were laypersons. Thirteen of the number were killed in Latin America, six in Africa, four in Asia, and one in Europe. This evidence seems to conflict with the gospel passage today which predicts the coming of the Son of Man before the apostles finish preaching to the towns of Israel.
But how is Jesus’ saying to be interpreted? Obviously, many apostles were martyred before Matthew wrote his gospel in approximately 90 A.D. It is likely that the evangelist had in mind Jesus’ returning to his disciples after his resurrection where he be with them until the end of time (Matthew 28:16-20).
Working for the Church does make one vulnerable. After all, those who follow Christ claim to offer no resistance to violence. Perhaps more significantly, Church workers often live in relative comfort compared to the masses in poor countries. In any case the risk does not outweigh the joy of living close to the Lord. His favor makes all our sacrifices seem minute.