“Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.”
Jesus is referring here to the special powers of healing and persuasion that he had conferred upon the twelve disciples before he sent them out to the towns and villages of Galilee. They were to announce that God’s Kingdom was coming into existence among them. They were to give freely of their gifts and not charge for their efforts, as the other itinerant wonder workers of the day would have done. Both this free healing and the healing itself were intended as signs of God’s Kingdom. Things are different when the world runs according to God’s ways, and that difference was to be evident in how the disciples went about their task.
In a broader sense this command is directed at all of us. Our special talents are free gifts. They are there not to make us feel good about ourselves, but to be used for the benefit of others.
Although most of us worked pretty hard to develop the skills and abilities that we possess, as well as for the money we earn today, it is easy to forget that the very capacity to work, the chance to better ourselves and to learn – even the aptitude or desire to do so – are gifts that we didn’t create. Yes, we need to respond, to use the gifts we’ve been given.
But, at base, everything remains a gift. Most basically, our very life is itself a gift. When I wake up in the morning I should thank God for making me, for holding me in existence, for saving me; I should ask how can I use this gift of life today to help others. And when I fall asleep at night I should thank God for sustaining me through the day, and ask whether I have done enough. The answer will almost always be “No, not nearly enough.” But the more we put on the mind of Christ, the closer we will come. For then, as St. Paul says: “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”
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