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Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time

“God is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.” These are comforting words from the book of Proverbs in the First Reading today. Many Christians take those words to mean that God will let no harm come to the dedicated believer. But modern preachers did not invent this "gospel of health and prosperity” which is present from the beginnings of our own religious heritage. On occasion, even the Bible seems to promise that God will provide for all the needs of the faithful.

But the Bible also makes it clear that the rain falls on the unjust as well as the just. That good people are visited by suffering as well as blessings. There is no sugar-coated pill of faith that we can take to protect us against personal failure or disaster. What God does give us is the resources to deal with any challenge that life presents. These words from Proverbs assure us that God will be a shield that will enable us to fight our own battles and win our victories.

There came a time in the ministry of Jesus when He was ready to send His disciples into the field. He had chosen a group of 12 men to follow Him. They heard every word He said, saw every miracle He performed, heard every prayer He prayed. Patiently and resolutely Jesus brought them along in their understanding of His message and mission.

Now He considered they were ready, so He sent them out on their own to preach the Gospel and to heal the sick. He told them to travel light so they could move from place to place freely and quickly. They were to depend on the generosity of the people who received them for shelter and food. And they were to preach in His authority and to heal with His power. In short, they were to carry on the very work that Christ has begun.

The Church still has that same commission. We are entrusted and empowered to carry on the work of Christ today. Our style of outreach is different from the Apostles but the message and the mission are exactly the same. We are commissioned to preach the truth and heal the sick although, of course, the Church has no monopoly on teaching and healing. Schools and hospitals operate in our society without any connection to the Church. But they still are carrying on the work of Christ, even though they may not realise it! There is one God from Whom all truth and life come. Whenever we advance the cause of truth, we carry on the work of Christ. Whenever we ease the burdens of the suffering, we carry on the work of Christ.

Lord Jesus, we thank You for the great privilege You give us, of sharing in Your teaching and healing ministry.

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