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The Kingdom of Heaven Is at Hand

First Reading: Genesis 41:55-57; 42:5-7, 17-24

When all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread; and Pharaoh said to all the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph; what he says to you, do.” So when the famine had spread over all the land, Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe in the land of Egypt. Moreover, all the earth came to Egypt to Joseph to buy grain, because the famine was severe over all the earth. Thus the sons of Israel came to buy among the others who came, for the famine was in the land of Canaan. Now Joseph was governor over the land; he it was who sold to all the people of the land. And Joseph’s brothers came, and bowed themselves before him with their faces to the ground. Joseph saw his brothers, and knew them, but he treated them like strangers and spoke roughly to them. “Where do you come from?” he said. They said, “From the land of Canaan, to buy food.” And he put them all together in prison for three days. On the third day Joseph said to them, “Do this and you will live, for I fear God: if you are honest men, let one of your brothers remain confined in your prison, and let the rest go and carry grain for the famine of your households, and bring your youngest brother to me; so your words will be verified, and you shall not die.” And they did so. Then they said to one another, “In truth we are guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the distress of his soul, when he besought us and we would not listen; therefore is this distress come upon us.” And Reuben answered them, “Did I not tell you not to sin against the lad? But you would not listen. So now there comes a reckoning for his blood.” They did not know that Joseph understood them, for there was an interpreter between them. Then he turned away from them and wept; and he returned to them and spoke to them. And he took Simeon from them and bound him before their eyes.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 33:2-3, 10-11, 18-19

Praise the LORD with the lyre, make melody to him with the harp of ten strings! Sing to him a new song, play skilfully on the strings, with loud shouts. The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nought; he frustrates the plans of the peoples. The counsel of the LORD stands for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations. Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, that he may deliver their soul from death, and keep them alive in famine.

Gospel: Matthew 10:1-7

And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every infirmity. The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zeb’edee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. These twelve Jesus sent out, charging them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And preach as you go, saying, `The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’

ESV

july 8

“The kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

These words of Christ in today’s Gospel truly resonate within. They are some of so many of Christ’s words that almost send a chill up my spine because they contain such power. The power of Christ that He is giving to these twelve. Just twelve men charged with going out into the world and bringing home the lost children of Israel. No big deal at all.

And yet these twelve were not exceptional. They didn’t graduate from fancy schools, come from rich and well-known families, they were definitely far from perfect, they exhibited pride and fear and insecurity and even deception. And yet they’re the ones that Christ gave this powerful charge to.

I’m saying this to remind myself. Because I easily fall into the trap of thinking only saints can be true apostles for Christ, and only apostles for Christ can be saints. I’ve always got this little nagging voice in the back of my mind hinting that I can’t do anything important because I’m still carrying around all this sin. I’m terrible at things that true apostles of Christ should be good at: I trip on my words, I run out of patience, I’m a hypocrite. I can also come up with these excuses when thinking about why I can’t be an apostle: I don’t know enough, I don’t have enough time, I have nowhere to spread the Word of God.

But “the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Those words ring with the truth. The kingdom of heaven truly is at hand because Christ has won the battle over sin and death. Heaven is so close because Christ is still at work on earth today in His Church and physically present in the Eucharist.

I may have a lot of weaknesses. I may have so many weaknesses that I think myself unworthy of bringing Christ’s message to others in my life. But I know for certain that Christ called and used the Apostles in spite of their weaknesses and transformed them through their work for Him.

He can’t transform me or use me to bring back lost sheep if I am too self-focused on my unworthiness. I’ve got to remind myself that there is no time to be wasted holding tightly to my sins. I need to take that one step by allowing Christ to use me in my weakness to spread the Gospel today, because the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

What is one small step we can take today to become an apostle for Christ? Let’s live like the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

photo by Madi Myers-Cook

Christy Isinger is the mom to five lovely, loud children living in the Canadian wilds. You can find out more about her here.

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