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Youth Ministry Resources - 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Year A: Matt 9:36-10:8 - Jesus names the apostles - 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time

When we listen to today's Gospel the paucity of the English language and the difficulty of translation comes to the fore. The Jerusalem Bible explains that Jesus "felt sorry for them" and the NRSV uses the word "compassion" which is closer to the Greek word used in the original text, a word related to 'entrails, bowels or guts' and indicates that Jesus was moved to the very core of his being - an experience that would cause Jesus to pause and inhale deeply as he looked upon the people he loved.

Shepherd imagery is common throughout the Bible for political and religious leadership and Jesus knows that the lost sheep will respond to the voice of the Good Shepherd. So moved is Jesus by what he sees in these lost sheep that he is motivated to call his apostles and commission them to go to these lost sheep. Jesus is acutely aware of the spiritual needs of the people and in this instance Jesus turns the problem into an opportunity.

Most of us are facing the prospect of losing masses as the result of the reduction in the number of priests. We are experiencing parishes being combined with neighbouring parishes and some fear a loss of identity or a "loss of my mass." However, as this reduction is widespread, even world wide, we need to read the sings of the times. We can take this situation and turn it into an opportunity and that is what Jesus commissioned us to do at our Baptism. There are endless opportunities for each of us to deepen our knowledge of God and to be the Body of Christ in today's world.

Jesus gives the apostles real power and authority because healing and casting out unclean spirits were clearly the work of God and could only be carried out with God's authority. The list of the apostles varies slightly in Mark, Luke and Acts so the names are not as important as the number 12 comes from the number of tribes of Israel and is symbolic of the restoration of all Israel. Remember Matthew is writing for the Jewish consciousness of his own community.

Another problem with translation occurs in verse 38 where the Jerusalem Bible, the NRSV and the NIV all state "so ask the Lord of the harvest…" and the Greek clearly says "pray therefore to the Lord of the harvest…" There is a stark difference here and it is important to remember that this is God's harvest, not ours and yet we have a part to play. Only a community that nourishes its faith through powerful prayer is apt to receive and to generate more pastoral workers. Every week we are commissioned at mass to "Go in peace to love and serve the world" if we took those words seriously our world would be a better place and our churches would be full.

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Youth Ministry Resources 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time
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Youth Ministry Resources 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time