I arrived at the Jesuit Retreat House in Oshkosh last yeserday afternoon for my 8-day retreat. The drive from the Twin Cities was anything but relaxing – the combination of traffic from road construction early on and a wrong turn near the tail end of the trip added considerably to the normal driving time. But as I drove onto the retreat house grounds, I could feel all of the tension and fatigue of the drive fade away. It is good to be here.
At our opening Mass last evening, the Gospel was the commissioning of the apostles in Chapter 10 of St. Matthew’s Gospel. Jesus instructs the twelve to proclaim that the kingdom of God is at hand and further to “Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons.”
During his homily, Fr. Tom Schloemer (who will be my director during this retreat) talked about what those insructions might look like for us. He interpreted the command to cleanse lepers as addressing our call to ministrer to those who are the outcast and the marginalized. The command to drive out demons as inviting us to try to help people with the various addictions they face. The command to raise the dead as a call to encourage those who cannot see the good in themselves. The command to heal the sick to bring courage to those who are weak.
Fr. Tom’s particular interpretations are not the only ones and may not be the ones that resonate with you. More important than the specific examples he gave is the reminder to us to focus on what the Gospel passages we read are saying to us in our lives. It would be easy to read this passage as simply an instruction to the twelve to whom Jesus spoke that day – after all, most of us don’t have the ability to lay hands on people and heal them and we dont’ tend to see a lot of lepers as we go about our daily tasks.
The invitation is to sit with each of these instructions and discern how we are each being asked to carry out that command. What does it look like for us to heal the sick…to drive out demons…to cleanse lepers…..to raise the dead? How are we meant to fulfill our commission to proclaim the kingdom?