The evangelist has a very important task, one for which Jesus entrusts them with special charisms. Healing and casting out demons are fairly impressive signs of supernatural power. The temptation for the disciple who has discovered these gifts at work in his or her own life is to begin to trust or rely on them more than on God. There may even be a temptation to enter the ministry for the sake of having power and authority. In the Old Testament reading we can see how God condemns the selection of unworthy ministers through the prophet Hosea. In the New Testament, Jesus reminds his disciples, “Not to rejoice that the evil spirits are subjected to you, but that your names are written in heaven.” He also indicates the necessity of praying for ministers to be called for the harvest. It is hard to see ministry or the priesthood as something more than a good career choice for people with a certain personality, and a bad career choice for people with another kind of personality. We are routinely tempted to judge our leaders, especially our religious leaders, based on their human qualities. Today’s readings remind us that a vocation is more than a disposition or a set of talents. Someone may have all the right qualities, but is not being called by God for the task of ministry. The one who has a vocation to ministry, the priesthood, consecrated life, etc. knows when they stand before God in their conscience and in their heart the mission they have received. A vocational calling is something God utters within an intimately personal bond formed with His creature. Someone who imagines they are called because the circumstances seem to indicate it, but have no clue who they are before God requires more discernment. Someone who imagines they do not have a vocation because the circumstances seem too difficult will have no true clarity until they begin to know who they are before God. Every true vocation is a gift of God in answer to the sincere prayer of the faithful.
GREGORY THE GREAT:
Thus it is necessary, with reference to everything which is desired in this life, that the inner will should be first inquired into. And when the ear of the heart is anxious to catch its sound, let it know that it speaks not in words but in deeds. When then a post of authority is offered, it is necessary for a man first to question with himself whether his conduct is suited to the place, whether his doings are at variance with the distinction it confers, lest perhaps the just Ruler of all should afterward not regard his prayers in tribulation, because God “knows not” his very entering on that high office which is the source of all his tribulation.1
This matter was carried on diligently and cautiously, with the whole people assembled so that no unworthy man should attain to the ministry of the altar or to the priestly rank. For the fact is that sometimes unworthy men are ordained, not according to the will of God but according to human presumption. These things that do not come from a legitimate and just ordination are displeasing to God. God himself makes this known through the prophet Hosea, saying, “They made themselves a king, but not by me.”2
What is called in Greek kophos is more commonly known as deaf rather than dumb, but the Scriptures indiscriminately use kophos to mean dumb or deaf. Spiritually, just as the blind men receive light, so too the dumb man’s tongue is loosened that he may speak and give glory to him whom he once rejected.3
The affliction of the dumb demoniac was not natural. It was the work of the evil spirit. So it was that the demoniac was “brought to him.” For he had no tongue to speak for himself, no way to ask on his own behalf, being speechless. He could not petition another, since the evil spirit had bound his tongue. And as his tongue was fettered, so was his soul.
This is why Jesus did not require a confession of faith from him. He straightway healed the disease. “And when the demon had been cast out, the dumb man spoke; and the crowds marveled, saying, ‘Never was anything like this seen in Israel.’ ”4
What could be more absurd than this! For in the first place, as he also says later on, it is impossible for demons to cast out demons. For it is a demon’s custom to clap in applause at the activities of his own kind, not oppose them. Second, not only did he himself cast out demons, but he also purified lepers, raised dead people, reined in the sea, canceled sins, proclaimed the kingdom and approached the Father. Demons would never choose to do these things and would not ever be able to accomplish them.5
- MORALS ON THE BOOK OF JOB 5.25.41. Ferreiro, A. (2003). Introduction to the Twelve Prophets. In A. Ferreiro (Ed.), The Twelve Prophets (p. 34). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- LETTER 67.4. Ferreiro, A. (2003). Introduction to the Twelve Prophets. In A. Ferreiro (Ed.), The Twelve Prophets (p. 35). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- COMMENTARY ON MATTHEW 1.9.33. Simonetti, M. (Ed.). (2001). Matthew 1–13 (p. 188). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW, HOMILY 32.1. Simonetti, M. (Ed.). (2001). Matthew 1–13 (pp. 188–189). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW, HOMILY 32.2. Simonetti, M. (Ed.). (2001). Matthew 1–13 (p. 189). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.