In Matthew today, we find Jesus hasn't given up on those to whom he believes are the ones he has been sent to bring back into God's fold. Jesus sends his newly named and handpicked twelve apostles only to the "lost sheep of the house of Israel" telling these newly minted power-brokers to stay away from the Gentiles and the Samaritans. Even though Jesus has been rejected by the leadership and by town-after-town, he has not given up on his initial trajectory.
Jesus knows that these twelve will have a rough time of it, as he tells them to be careful about which houses they enter and grant their peace and blessing, telling them to "shake off the dust from your feet as you leave" the houses and towns that do not accept them and their message of God's kingdom being near unto them.
It seems to me that Jesus is still developing in his own understanding of his mission. He hasn't given up on trying to convince his own people of God's invitation for them to follow and welcome into their lives God's Son. And is exclusionary in his focus at this early to mid point of Matthew's Gospel. Yet we know, at the very end of Matthew's Gospel, when he commissions these same apostles (absent one), he directs them to go and make disciples of all nations.
Even though Jesus broadens the scope of this mission at the end, he never gives up on anyone. He knows God's great embrace and forgiving nature: a trait not often revealed in the Hebrew Testament.
To whom do we need to remember to embrace....to forgive today?
Copyright 2011, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: Alley running free on the PTown Flats, 2008, jfd+