The kingdom of heaven has come near – Br. David Allen

Here is my sermon for this morning.  As I began to write it I thought it would be quite easy, simply finding present day equivalents for categories, but I found I was doing more re-writing as I went along, right up to 30 minutes before time to get ready to preside and preach.


David Allen, SSJE

davidallen_1[Mt. 10:7-15]

Jesus sent his 12 Disciples out on mission with these words of admonition; “As you go proclaim the good news, ‘the kingdom of heaven has come near.’”  The concept of the kingdom of heaven as a network of love was becoming real for the disciples. Hearing Jesus’ teaching on the kingdom by parables brought them a clearer understanding. This would grow in time, as it does for most of us.

The instructions in today’s Gospel were for disciples going out on mission.

May I suggest some ways to update them for our time?

Jesus named some things to do on mission.  “Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons.” (v. 8.)   It would be more realistic for us in the present age to consider these as categories, or possibilities, rather than things to be done.

We do anoint and pray for the sick. There are other things present day disciples can do, such as supporting relief work, or encouraging medical research– other things like that.

Giving hope to the discouraged, and light to those who have lost their faith, replaces literal raising of the dead. (An occasional miracle might be appropriate.)

Instead of cleansing lepers and casting out demons, outdated attitudes, the kind that persist even to our time, can be cast out. Instilling a joyful awareness of other present needs will round out this category, or make a new one.

Jesus’ instructions about what the disciples should take with them are easily updated by saying, “Less baggage is better than more”.

Finding suitable places for lodging, and staying there until those on mission need to leave, is as good practical advice now as it was then.  A prayer for peace is always a laudable thing to do.  The same can be done when leaving.

Jesus told his disciples, if at any house the people refused to welcome them, or to listen to their words, they were to shake the dust off from their feet and leave that house or that town. This may sound archaic to our ears.  But, as a figure of speech, it can be an effective way of dealing with bad manners and poor hospitality. In other words, “Put negative feelings behind you and focus on presentneeds.”

Jesus’ instructions were for those going out on mission.  In our own age many groups or individuals are still sent out to do mission.  I hope these suggestions may help you find ways to pray for those going on mission at any time.

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  1. marta engdahl on July 28, 2019 at 23:14

    The reinterpretation of Jesus’ advice is very helpful. When there is fracus, I work to quiet myself, relax, even pray for those in the conflict, and then maybe ask a kindly re-direction to focus on the positive (i.e., knock the dust from your shoes and move on). This may help those in the strife to refocus, breath deeply, and allow the Christ in them to seek the Christ outside of themselves. A pause for such relief can’t be bad!

  2. Ronald Pelinski on July 28, 2019 at 03:21

    Br. David, thank you for this helpful and enlightening homily. Sometimes it seems that we just take words too literally (I realize I do) and not as they were intended.

  3. Sarah Acland on July 27, 2019 at 14:35

    Going into mission is very scary indeed. May I add my voice to brother David’s in asking for prayers for those who are called to mission.

  4. Tudy Hill on July 27, 2019 at 11:40

    I agree with the previous comment- wonderful to HEAR Br David’s words! I like his description of the kingdom of heaven as a “network of love”. Thank you, Br David.

  5. Sally Baynton on July 27, 2019 at 09:09

    I love this homily! What a precious, fresh way to approach our duties!

  6. Ruth Potter on July 27, 2019 at 08:21

    Thank you for current applications of God’s word to our lives. Sometimes it is easier to say, ‘I could never do that’, than to say, ‘how can I apply this in today’s world.’

  7. Elizabeth Hoffman on July 19, 2015 at 20:51

    Dear Br David, so nice to hear your speaking voice. It gives warmth to your wise words. Thank you. Yours in Christ, e

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