By Sarah Cornwell

A Reading from the Gospel of Matthew 10:16-23

16 ”See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. 17 Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; 18 and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles. 19 When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; 20 for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. 21 Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; 22 and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 23 When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly I tell you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.”

Meditation

This is some pep talk that Jesus gives his apostles. You could be flogged and dragged before the highest rulers, but don’t worry about what you’ll say in such perilous circumstances, the right words will just come to you. Stick with me, though, it’ll all be worth it, continues Jesus. You see, brother will betray brother to death, fathers will betray their children, and the children will rise up against their parents and have them killed. You’ll be positively hated, all because of me. Doesn’t that sound great? Wait, where are you all going?

Of course, we know that the apostles don’t throw down their walking staffs and tell Jesus to take a hike, but for goodness’ sake why not? The answer is not easy to swallow, but it is pretty simple: because Jesus is Lord. If Jesus is Lord, there is nothing, absolutely nothing, more important than following him. We pray that ours may be a life of rest and quietness, but that may not be. We may face persecution. We may have to flee town to town. Here and in many places around the world, our brothers and sisters are living the reality which Jesus described. Why haven’t they told Jesus to take a hike, that this way of life is too difficult? One suspects it has to do with that simple answer: because Jesus is Lord.

Not all fights of the faith face violence or imprisonment. Some face malaise, contempt, or heresy. For some of us, the most rigorous fight we will have is one of patient perseverance, refusing to succumb to demoralization, to the shrug that says, “What’s the point?” The point is Jesus is Lord. We are to carry that cross from town to town and refuse to succumb to fear or indifference, until Jesus comes once more in glory and says, “Servant, well done.”

Sarah Cornwell is a laywoman and an associate of the Eastern Province of the Community of St. Mary. She and her husband have six children and they live in the Hudson Valley north of New York City.

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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer

Today we pray for:

The Diocese of Gippsland (Anglican Church of Australia)
Parish of Calvary-St. George’s, New York, N.Y.