Let us deal shrewdly with Israel, lest they multiply.
A reading from the Book of Exodus (Exodus 1 :8-14.22)
In those days: there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. And he said to his people, “Behold, the sons of Israel are too many and too mighty for us. Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and, if war befall us, they join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.” Therefore they set task masters over them to afflict them with heavy burdens; and they built for Pharaoh store-cities, Pithom and Ra-amses. But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad. And the Egyptians were in dread of the sons of Israel. So they made the people of Israel serve with rigour, and made their lives bitter with hard service, in mortar and brick, and in all kinds of work in the field; in all their work they made them serve with rigor. And Pharaoh commanded all his people, “Every son that is born to the Hebrews you shall cast into the Nile, but you shall let every daughter live.”
The word of the Lord.
RESPONSORIAL PSALM Psalm124:1-3.4-6.7-8 (R.8a)
R/. Our help is in the name of the Lord.
“If the Lord had not been on our side,”
Let Israel say—
“If the Lord had not been on our side
When men rose against us,
then would they have swallowed us alive
when their anger was kindled.” R.
“Then would the waters have engulfed us,
the torrent gone over us;
over our head would have swept
the raging waters.”
Blest be the Lord who did not give us
A prey to their teeth! R.
R/. Our help is in the name of the Lord.
Our life, like a bird, has escaped
From the snare of the fowler.
Indeed, the snare has been broken,
and we have escaped.
Our help is in the name of the Lord,
who made heaven and earth. R.
Alleluia Matt. 5:10
Alleluia. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Alleluia.
“I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.”
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew (Matthew 10:34-11:1)
At that time: Jesus said to his apostles, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s foes will be those of his own household. He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it. He who receives you received me, and he who receives me receives him who sent me. He who receives a prophet because he is a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward, and he who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. And whoever gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.” And when Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in their cities.
The Gospel of the Lord.
The concluding part of Jesus’ missionary instruction sounds most challenging. He cautions the apostles of the conflicts that would arise on account of their discipleship and mission. Families and communities would be divided on account of the name of Christ: a division between those that are loyal to him and those opposed to him. Although such a division is inevitable, what he demands is total, radical and steadfast commitment to him and to his cause. No earthly ties or attachments should become a stumbling block to following Christ. Everything else is worth sacrificing for the surpassing worth of knowing, following of and surrendering to Christ. He becomes the only treasure worth possessing for a disciple. All those who bear the name of Christ should be prepared to face such conflicting situations in life and make radical sacrifices for his sake because discipleship of Christ towers over everything else in the life of a Christian.