July 12, 2015
ORDINARY 15 (B)
Jesus summoned the twelve and began to send them out two by two. – Mark 6: 7
In today’s Gospel, the Apostles are instructed to travel light – free of any earthly trappings that might distract them from their mission. They have been with Jesus for some time, & He had been preparing them for this moment. As ambassadors of His message, they should be spiritually equipped to deal with the obstacles they are sure to encounter. Jesus gives them simple injunctions on what they must leave behind if their mission is to succeed.
The single tunic was meant to remind them to be single-minded: they are men on a mission. Their lack of shelter & food made it possible for others to be hospitable, in other words, it elicited the goodness in people & allowed them to acknowledge their need for a message of peace. Our Lord’s injunctions were not such much goals to be achieved as they were paths to be walked, paths that led them to a deeper spirituality. For those who refused to respond to the message, there was to be no recrimination – they simply moved on.
Here is a true story that illustrates the teaching power of such injunctions. Jack Cornfield was a young man & the only Westerner in a Buddhist monastery in Thailand. He was told to bow to every monk older than he was. When he respected the older monks, there was no problem. But when he had to bow to a “twenty-one year old monk full of hubris,” or a sloppy old rice farmer of a monk “who never meditated a day in his life,” he was conflicted. Then he began to realize how he could make this bowing work:
“I began to look for some worthy aspect of each person I bowed to. I bowed to the wrinkles around the farmer’s eyes for all the difficulties he had seen & suffered through. I bowed to the playfulness of the young monks, the incredible possibilities each of their lives held yet ahead of them.”
From following the injunction to bow to everyone older than he was, he learned how to be open to whatever life brings & then learn from it. You see, when one shares knowledge or spiritual insight with another, both are richer for it & are enriched by the experience because we have as much to learn from the other as they have from us. Evangelism meanssharing the faith, not dishing it out like some commodity. The injunction to “Go make disciples of all nations” is not elitism or spiritual imperialism – it is a part of our sanctification as well.
Like those first disciples, we too are being sent forth to share God’s loving presence with others. Some will be receptive, others will not. Whatever the response, we will be growing in wisdom & understanding of what the “good life” is really all about. AMEN!