Father, into your hands I commend my spirit (Lk 23, 46)
We suffer. We are injured and we get hurt. We are not exempt from afflictions and infirmities. We are old enough to die the day we are born.
With all this, the missionaries of God’s kingdom and healing are promised that nothing will harm them. Those sent by Jesus—even those not belonging to the “hierarchy”—receive from him the power to resist Satan.
Jesus does not tell them to go and hunt for serpents, so they can later show them being handled alive. To foster peace is part of their mission, but the perfect harmony prophesied in Is 11, 6-9 does not reign yet.
For now, then, one is better off staying away from cobras and adders. And watch out, they are still predators, the wolves, the leopards and the lions. Lambs still face harm and ruin.
Reality remaining so, then there must be this other meaning to Jesus’ promise: no harm is done to those who suffer harm but are not vanquished by it. The disciples who imitate the Teacher will make and see Satan fall from the sky.
Jesus, subjected to the punishment of the cross, affirms his trust of the Father. He cries out to him from the depth of his heart, intoning, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
As the Suffering Servant, he is the fulfillment of what the people of Israel should be: totally submissive to the Lord and relying on him, anointed with the Spirit and sent to evangelize the poor, the light of the nations, justice and praise before them. His faithfulness in the midst of tribulations will not be without recompense; the Lord will comfort him.
Indeed, we have to be like Jesus. We shall persevere in running the missionary race, our eyes fixed on the one who endured the cross and is now seated at the right of God’s throne. We will despise the shame of suffering and not let ourselves be brought down. We shall encourage ourselves by thinking of the countless martyrs, more numerous today than yesterday (Pope Francis).
Our trust in God will be such that, grounded in love, we can be sure—as St. Vincent de Paul teaches—that no evil will happen to us and everything will work for our good, even if it seems we are headed to ruin (Rules of the C.M. II, 2; Coste XI, 39-40).
And we will pray to the master of the harvest, without fretting too much about laborers being few and even scandalous at times. We alarmists, inclined to harshness, shall remember St. Vincent’s advice about God showing himself not in commotion but in calm (Coste II, 69-74). Maybe the master already sends us reapers, only we do not recognize them, madly rigid have we become (Pope Francis) and drunk with our usual expectations.
We will rely, moreover, on Jesus’ missionary instructions. Collaboration and sharing are important to him. He asks us co-workers to be poor, eating and drinking what is offered us, simple, resolute, and so selfless that we even avoid every appearance of opportunism. He wants us to be always available to go to our mission promptly and with a sense of urgency, not weighed down by too much baggage.
Finally, we will boast of the marks of suffering and will devote ourselves to proclaiming the death of the Lord until he comes. It will indicate that we have Satan vanquished, yes. But above all, it will be our living confession that the miraculous that matters and makes us rejoice is not that nothing harms us, but rather that we endure harm, so that we become like the Wounded Healer.
Ross Reyes Dizon
Tags: A Vincentian reading of the Sunday readings, Mission instructions, Trust in God