Christ Sending Of The Twelve, Bowyer Bible, Mortier, print #3635 Christ Sends Out the Twelve Apostles.
[Jesus] instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick— no food, no sack, no money in their belts. They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic. Mark 6:8-9.
Words highlighted in red are links to supporting materials.
We Christians are to live as Jesus lived, speak as if Jesus is speaking, act as Jesus acted and generally, become Jesus to the best of our ability. And obey his orders…. Aye, as Hamlet would say, there’s the rub. Off we all go into the wild streets and lanes, dressed in a tunic and nothing else save sandals and a walking stick? Well, good luck. Yes, we are to be missionaries in the sense that we should act and behave with charity and concern, helping others as best we can, being as close to the Lord as we are able. So what to make of today’s gospel? It is a radical teaching, which is to say, it goes to the heart, the foundation, of what we believe as Christians. So let us go to the root, and I suggest that that is the moment we were born, with literally nothing. That would go beyond even today’s instructions wouldn’t it? But that was the beginning, and perhaps that would be a way to look at today’s teaching. Today, years after we were born, we have much more than Jesus is telling us to take. But look at what he tells to take, sandals and a walking stick. They assist us in being mobile, going from place to place, just as Jesus himself did. And in each such place he taught, by word and example. That was his radical, essential, life action. We have those essentials of course, we are able to go from place to place, even figuratively if we are disabled, and we know what we should be doing when we get there: act as Jesus would act, speak in the way he would speak, and so on. So, in a way, Jesus is calling us back to essentials here, telling us not to be weighed down by anything which might obstruct us from being what we should be at all times. In other words, Jesus wants each one of us to be our own genuine self, not judged or measured by wealth or beauty or intelligence, but by our real, unique self. We will be judged on that basis and no other. So, in fact, we are sent forth into the world every single day in exactly the same way as the first disciples were, employing our unique gifts as God gave them to us in the manner Jesus expects of us.
The other two readings today support this. Amos, in the first reading, states that he is an average fellow, shepherding his sheep, pruning special sycamore trees. I had to look that one up. The Holy Land has sycamores which are unlike those we might be familiar with. They produce figs – fico sycamorus – and therefore need special attention. But then, as he says, God called him to be a prophet, and he obeyed, despite the hard times he would have to endure. Remember that before the arrival of Jesus, God’s divine nature was slowly revealed to us through the prophets, preparing us for the arrival of Jesus himself. After Jesus’ mission was accomplished, we became Christ to the world at our baptism, and so we return to today’s gospel and its message. Look at the second reading. That tells us of the glory of what it means to be Christian:
[God has] blessed us in Christ
with every spiritual blessing in the heavens,
as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world,
to be holy and without blemish before him.
In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ,
in accord with the favor of his will,
for the praise of the glory of God’s grace
that he granted us in the beloved.
We are deeply and surely blessed in our identity as children of God, truly Christ to the world, not alone, not without strength, but with every spiritual blessing in the heavens! So although today’s gospel might seem to be extreme and even threatening, when we understand the full message, as very helpfully seen in the other readings today, we are more like divine superheros, able to tackle every difficulty and threat, and so we must be willing to trust in God’s power (which ties in with last Sunday’s message) which works through us and for us, any time, anywhere.
Blessings, In Due Time.
Reflections on next Sunday’s Mass Readings will be posted on Wednesday.
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