A Life of Faithfulness Inspired by the Holy Spirit
O Lord, from whom all good proceeds: Grant us the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may always think those things that are good, and by your merciful guidance may accomplish the same; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
FIRST READING: Exodus 19:1-8 Israel at Mount Sinai
19 On the third new moon after the people of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on that day they came into the wilderness of Sinai. 2 They set out from Rephidim and came into the wilderness of Sinai, and they encamped in the wilderness. There Israel encamped before the mountain, 3 while Moses went up to God. The Lord called to him out of the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the people of Israel: 4 ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; 6 and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.”
7 So Moses came and called the elders of the people and set before them all these words that the Lord had commanded him. 8 All the people answered together and said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do.” And Moses reported the words of the people to the Lord.
1 O be joyful in the Lord, all you lands; *
serve the Lord with gladness, and come before his presence with a song.
2 Be assured that the Lord, he is God; *
it is he that has made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
3 O go your way into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise; *
be thankful unto him, and speak good of his Name.
4 For the Lord is gracious, his mercy is everlasting, *
and his truth endures from generation to generation.
Second Reading: Romans 5:1-11: Peace with God Through Faith
5 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith[b] into this grace in which we stand, and we[c] rejoice[d] in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
GOSPEL: Matthew 9:35-10:15
The Harvest Is Plentiful, the Laborers Few
35 And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38 therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
The Twelve Apostles
10 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 affliction. 2 The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus;[a] 4 Simon the Zealot,[b] and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
Jesus Sends Out the Twelve Apostles
5 These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, 6 but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’[c] 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers,[d] cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay. 9 Acquire no gold or silver or copper for your belts, 10 no bag for your journey, or two tunics[e] or sandals or a staff, for the laborer deserves his food. 11 And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it and stay there until you depart. 12 As you enter the house, greet it. 13 And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14 And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. 15 Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.
IMPORTANT NOTES FROM THE ORTHODOX STUDY BIBLE:
EXODUS 19:4 The Son of God brought Israel to Himself from Egyptian bondage. This prefigures His Incarnation, by which He brings the Church to Himself as the Great High Priest.
19:6 The children of Israel were to be a holy nation and a royal priesthood. These things are to be fulfilled through God’s Church today. How are we faithfully obeying his voice and keeping his commandments?
19:8 They said they would obey but did not, “for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified.”
PSALM 100 is a psalm of thanksgiving to the Lord Jesus Christ (vv. 1, 4). How often do we remember to thank Him for the privilege of serving Him with gladness and great joy (v. 2)? We thank Him that He is our God, and that He created us and made us the sheep of His pasture(v. 3). We thank Him for His goodness, mercy, and truth (v. 5).What are you thankful for today?
ROMANS 5:1 Faith in Christ makes us justified, an ongoing state of communion with Him (see note at 3:24). Because of this ongoing communion, we have peace with God which is also ongoing. The Greek word pistis, here translated as faith, can also be rendered “faithfulness.” Faith is more than the conviction that something is true). Genuine faithfulness is continuous loyalty and obedience to God. Such faithfulness justifies a person through God's grace.
ROMANS 3:24 Being justified refers to an ongoing state of righteousness and not merely to a one-time event. This justification requires a redemption: a sacrificial offering capable of (1) setting us free from sin and death, and (2) uniting us eternally with righteousness and life. In the OT, this sacrificial offering was prefigured by blood sacrifices—the killing of physically perfect animals for the temporal remission of sins. Under the new covenant, Christ is the sacrificial offering that once for all eternally frees us from sin and death and by His grace unites us with righteousness and life.
5:5 Christians ask, “How can I experience the love of God and pass it on to others?” St. Paul offers the answer here.
5:6 The ungodly are all of us. Because of sin, everyone stands in alienation from God, and we do not have the capacity to become righteous on our own. Because of God's love, Christ died for our sins to bring us the gift of righteousness.
5:10 Those who accept and appropriate Christ's love are reconciled to God, being restored to peace and communion with Him. God has not ceased to be our Friend, for He is unchangeable. We are the ones who have changed and thus need changing. So while we were still rebellious enemies of God, God was working in His love to restore us.
MATTHEW 9:36 Jesus does not condemn sinners, but sees them as lost sheep to be found and brought home. Compassion means “suffering with.” The illustration of sheep having no shepherd, drawn from the Old Testament, is an accusation against the Jewish leaders who, charged with the duty of shepherds, acted as wolves and hirelings.
9:37-38 The harvest suggests the abundance of those who are ready to accept the Kingdom. Jesus is both the Sower and the Lord of the harvest. His disciples are sent not to sow, but to reap what He had sown by the prophets. How many are sent to harvest is less important than with what power they go into the harvest.
10:1-4 Disciples (v. 1) and apostles (v. 2) are often used interchangeably for the twelve. Disciple means “learner,” and apostle means “one sent out.” Jesus gave them power to perform miracles, while He performed them by His own power. The names of the Twelve are not the same in all lists, as many people had more than one name. The names here are given in pairs, suggesting who may have traveled together on this “first missionary journey,” as Mark reports they were sent out two by two.
10:5-10 The disciples' mission is like Christ's: to preach (v. 7) and to heal (v. 8). Jesus prepares them to be single-minded in their mission to preach and heal: (1) He reminds them that His power is free—a gift from God (v. 8); and (2) He instructs them to carry no money (v. 9) so that they could not be accused of greed, and so they would learn dependence on God.
10:12-13 Christ commissions His servants to give a greeting of peace, the same peace that was proclaimed by the prophets, that He would offer to the disciples, and that would be revealed as a fruit of the Holy Spirit. To this day, Christ's peace is offered to the faithful during Holy Communion with the words, “Peace be with you.”
CHALLENGE: As you ask the Holy Spirit to inspire you to hear God’s voice and to obey His teaching as His followers/role models today, what is God saying to you and how are you responding?
 Prefigure: to be an early version of the Christ saving us and reconciling us through his victory over sin and death and his preparing us to be His Church, His mighty reflection in the world.