‘You received without charge, give without charge’

Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A

The compassion that motivated Jesus must be our motivation too in offering the good news to others. Fr Adrian Graffy reflects.

Matthew 9:36 – 10:

36 When Jesus saw the crowds he felt sorry for them because they were harassed and dejected, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is rich but the labourers are few, so ask the Lord of the harvest to send labourers to his harvest.’ 10:1 He summoned his twelve disciples, and gave them authority over unclean spirits with power to cast them out and to cure all kinds of diseases and sickness. 2 These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew; James the son of Zebedee, and his brother John; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, the one who was to betray him. 5 These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them as follows: ‘Do not turn your steps to pagan territory, and do not enter any Samaritan town; 6 go rather to the lost sheep of the House of Israel. 7 And as you go, proclaim that the kingdom of heaven is close at hand. 8 Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out devils. You received without charge, give without charge.’

Other readings: Exodus, 19: 2-6; Romans 5: 6-11


The Gospel of Matthew contains five major speeches of Jesus, designed by the
evangelist, so it seems, to reflect and to outshine the five books of Moses. Jesus is the
new Moses, who comes to bring the Law and the Prophets to fulfilment.
We hear today the beginning of the second speech, which is known as the Missionary
Discourse. The opening words of our gospel passage tell us that the motivation of Jesus
in his preaching is compassion for those who are lost. This must be our motivation too
in offering the good news to others.
Jesus selects his twelve apostles. They are chosen from among those who have left
everything to follow him. It may come as a surprise that with his first words to them
Jesus apparently limits the mission of the apostles. The first priority of the mission
must be the people of Israel, who are described as ‘the lost sheep’. Later the mission
will be extended to all the nations. The message is the one that Jesus has preached from
the outset: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near’. The message and the healings, which the
disciples are to work in imitation of Jesus, are to be given freely.

Does my attitude to those who are lost imitate the compassion of Jesus?

Do I encourage and support those who are called to work for the spread of the gospel?

We pray that the Church may maintain its fidelity to the gospel of Jesus.

We pray that the Jewish people may be faithful to God’s covenant.

INT-IMG_5349 Fr Adrian Graffy (3)Rev Dr Adrian Graffy is a member of the Vatican Commission that takes a lead in Bible scholarship, interpretation and promotion in the Catholic Church.

Rev Dr Graffy said of his five-year appointment by Pope Francis in 2014: “It is an honour to be nominated by Pope Francis as a member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission. I feel humbled and very much look forward to being of service to His Holiness and the Church.”

He added: “A great deal has been achieved in England and Wales in recent years by many co-workers to advance Biblical scholarship and the provision of easy-to-use resources. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them and the Bishops’ Conference Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis for their efforts to promote understanding and love of the Bible, particularly through the publication of the teaching documents, The Gift of Scripture and the study guide to Verbum Domini, The Word of the Lord.”

Rev Dr Graffy received his doctorate in Sacred Scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome in 1983. He taught for over 20 years in St John’s Seminary in Wonersh, and is Chair of the National Scripture Working Group, which is an instrument of the Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. Fr Graffy is a past director of Brentwood’s Commission for Evangelisation and Formation and parish priest of Christ the Eternal High Priest in Gidea Park, Essex. Among his publications are the Gospel of Mark and the Letter to the Romans (Alive Publishing).

Listen to BBC Essex interview with Fr Adrian Graffy