In this post-modern employment market many things have changed. Applications happen mostly on line. A computer instead of a human will contact you and the old idea of “shot gunning” scores of apps is really a useless effort. One thing, however, has remained the same and that’s the “Job Description”. Before a person applies for a position one needs to know exactly what skills are called for and what the responsibilities are. Do you know there is a written job description for a “believer”, straight out of Jesus’ own mouth?
It can be found in Matthew 10: 6-27: "As you go proclaim the Kingdom of heaven is close at hand. Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out devils. You received without charge, give without charge. Provide yourself with no gold or silver, not even a few coppers for your purses, with no haversack for your journey or spare tunic or footwear or staff. …. Whatever town or village you go into, ask for someone trustworthy and stay with him until you leave. As you enter his house, salute it, and if the house deserves it, let your peace descend upon it, if it does not your peace come back to you. And if anyone does not welcome you or listen to what you have to say, as you walk out of the house or town shake the dust from your feet. … Remember, I am sending you out like sheep among wolves, so be cunning as serpents and yet as harmless as doves. Beware of men: they will hand you over to sanhedrins and scourge you in their synagogues. You will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the pagans. But when they hand you over, do not worry about how to speak or what to say; what you are to say will be given to you when the time comes, because it is not you who will be speaking, the Spirit of your Father will be speaking in you. Brother will betray brother to death, and the father his child; children will rise against their parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by all men on account of my name, but the man who stands firm to the end will be saved. If they persecute you in one town, take refuge in the next; and if they persecute you in that, take refuge in another. … The disciple is not superior to his teacher, nor the slave to his master. It is enough for the disciple that he should grow to be like his teacher, and the slave to his master. … Do not be afraid of them [your persecutors] therefore. For everything that is now covered will be uncovered, and everything now hidden will be made clear. What I say to you in the dark, tell in the daylight; what you hear in whispers, proclaim from the housetops. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; fear him rather who can destroy both body and soul in hell."
There it is; how to travel, what to wear, where to stay, what to say, what to do in case of emergencies when no one is listening, what kind of attitude to have and the possible “fall out” and bad results if you do the “good work” that you are expected to do! Given is a completely honest picture, no lies, cover ups or embellishments. Nothing is hidden.
Would you be willing to take a job where the CEO informed you of all the pros and cons of a position? Modeled within his own teaching is an example of what Jesus is teaching! So what kind of guts do you have? As some have said, either Jesus was completely crazy or he was God. No other explanations could justify some of the “out of the box” things that he said or did. Who in the world would take a job where someone told you that you would probably be persecuted, thrown in jail, lied about and/or murdered and, oh yes, you also had the power to cast out demons? Yet, that is exactly what happened. As Father John Bartunek (LC) points out in The Better Part, finding people to fit this very job description was no problem in the first century or the second or the third and so on. As a matter of fact, there has been no problem finding applicants for this position for the last two-thousand years or so! Can you say saints, martyrs, converts, priests, nuns and believers? Today’s church is one billion strong and that number includes you and me. So in a very real way the above job description which was written two thousand years ago is as current today as it was then and it applies to you and me and everyone who calls themselves Catholic.
The responsibilities that Jesus laid out for the disciples were not conditional. They did not include an option such as: “If you want to.”, “If you choose to take this mission.”, or “If you want to join my club.” The Matthew passage is a listing of how one’s life is lived if they are a disciple (believer) and did not include any qualifiers that divided disciples who were “active” from those who chose to “hold back” for “personal reasons”. Being a Christian is not a spectator sport. Either you believe the message of salvation for the world that God brought us, in the form of his son, or you do not. It really is that simple! The fact that the Church still stands today, worldwide, is an undeniable testament to the soundness of the message.
So when you hear or re-read the Matthew description of your job as a believer, read it with a full realization that it fully applies to you and me. Although you might not be called upon to hit the road with nothing but a haversack, the “job description” still defines who you should be in the world. It is a totally do-able proposition. Do you pray with people as a matter of course if they are ill or troubled? Do you look with a discerning eye at all things that are printed, spoken or broadcast and have the ability to know when the message is sound or not, as well as exercise the courage to gracefully dispute things that are anti Christian, false, or morally offensive? Are you clever as serpents and schooled about the presence of evil in the world while being mild enough (as doves) in your defense so that people will still hear you? Do you down play the love of money and the need for “things”? Do you enter unfamiliar places and bless them with the ability to know when the blessing needs to taken back with you?
When people do not want to hear the Christian message do you have to ability to totally leave the scene gracefully and come back another time when their attitude might be different? These are all skills that Jesus gives us by virtue of the fact that we are believers. Some of them take practice to perfect. However, all of them are the fruit of a person who practices their faith and takes advantage of the wisdom of the Church, particularly the sacraments and sacramentals. In addition to guiding us on a path to eternity with Jesus, sacraments and sacramentals are tools of the Church that are given to us in order to equip us for “the battle”. They are weapons of war against the evil one. That is why they were given to the first disciples because of their power and effectiveness. Remember that the disciples were clearly instructed that they did not need clothing, footwear, money, food or a place to stay, but that they did have the tools to: “Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out devils.” God’s expectations of us, as followers of Jesus, are no less.
So the Matthew 10 passage is serious business. It is the detail which fleshes out the “great commission”. If any of those tasks seem impossible or unrealistic to you it might be time to re-think who you are as a person of faith. You were equipped with the right skills the moment you became a believer in Jesus Christ. As a disciple/warrior do you make sure that you are ready for the battle at all times? Do you participate in all of the sacraments; do you know scripture, the teachings of the church and your personal responsibilities? Hurry up, time’s a wasting. Read your job description carefully. “The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few.” (Mt 9:37)
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Copyright©2010, Kathryn M. Cunningham, All Rights Reserved.
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