Note to readers: I am sorry that this reflection was not posted yesterday. I simply fell a day behind!
In this morning's reading from Matthew, we find Jesus going about the cities and villages, teaching in the synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every disease and affliction. There are at least three themes found in the today's reading that are related to our call to be participants in the mission of God.
Jesus spent a large percentage of his earthly ministry engaged in the ministry of healing. Although this ministry brought about an obvious transformation in the lives of those who were healed, Jesus is also pointing us forward to the promise of God's new creation. In other words, the ministry of healing is a foretaste in the present of the fullness of restoration that will take place in the future. Healing is a sign of hope. Our world is in desperate need of "signs of hope." As we grieve the tragic loss of life in the wake of the Boston marathon bombings, we are reminded once again of our deep need and longing for healing and restoration.
Throughout the ministry of Jesus, we find the consistent theme of compassion. Jesus is often moved with compassion, which then prompts him to reach out to heal or help someone in need. This theme of compassion is meant to be found in our lives as well, and yet too often we so consumed by our own needs and commitments that we remain unmoved by the needs of those around us. Being a "missional people" means that we allow God to soften our hearts, so that we become a people of compassion and mercy to all those to whom we are sent!
Finally - the theme of prayer. Regarding this theme, New Testament scholar N.T. Wright offers the following insight:
Outside the Lord's Prayer itself, Jesus doesn't often tell his followers what to pray for, but this time he does. Go to the farmer, he says, and beg him to send workers to bring in the harvest. And, as his followers pray that prayer, the answer comes back worryingly quickly: you are, yourselves, to be the answer to your own prayer.
How is God calling you to be a person of compassion? Where are the fields today ready for harvest? What should our prayer then be? When we can answer that, we may discover, too, how we ourselves might be part of God's answer.