First Reading: 1 Am 7:12-15
Psalm: 85:9-10, 11-12, 13-14
Second Reading: 2 Eph 1:3-14
Gospel: Mk 6:7-13
A Jesuit missionary labored for many years in a Bukidnon mission in Mindanao. When the mission parish was finally turned over to the diocesan clergy, the new parish priest was amazed that the Jesuit missionary had left him practically a bare convent without any furniture, not even a bed. What the new parish priest did not realize was that the old missionary had lived in the bare convent all his years in the mission without any furniture. He had nothing to leave behind.
This story calls to mind the words of Jesus in today’s Gospel reading as he sent the Twelve on their mission, “Take nothing on the journey but a walking stick … no food, no traveling bag, not a coin in the purses in their belts. Do not bring a second tunic.”
What was the point of Jesus in giving these instructions? He told the Apostles not to carry any provisions of food or money in their purse, not even to bring a change of clothes. Jesus’ point was that the Apostles are to travel light to be able to reach far and wide, to reach more people. The focus is the mission, not the comfort or popularity, or the success of the messenger.
We must learn to travel light in our life’s journey and to be ready to endure discomfort to be able to reach far and wide for the sake of bringing God’s Good News. We must learn to trust in God’s providence and the people’s hospitality.
When Jesus said, “Whatever house you find yourself in, stay there until you leave the locality.” He was saying whatever hospitality you find, settle there, and do not be looking for more comfort or better accommodations. Our concern is not how to ensure our own comfort, but
to preach the Kingdom of God.
What does this have to do with us? You and I are called to be apostles, to spread the message of Christ by word, action, and style of life. Do not say that these instructions are meant for priests and religious – the “professional” evangelizers. All of us, by our baptism, are called to bring the message of Christ to the world around us. We can do better if we are not weighed down with a lot of unimportant things that take our time, our attention, and our money.
Some gadgets like cell phones contribute to our comfort and convenience. They help us do our work more efficiently and quickly. However, if we are not careful they can enslave us. It is now a common sight to see people standing on a street corner or bus stop, or sidewalk holding a cell phone to their ears and chatting away. They cannot live without a cell phone. Even at Mass or at stage plays or concerts, we often hear cell phones ringing disturbing people and interfering with what is going on, as if that is the most urgent thing in life – a matter of life and death.
Does this mean we have to live like Mahatma Gandhi, or St. Francis of Assisi, or live like the poorest beggar? Not at all. But the spirit of Christ is that we free ourselves of the superfluous, the unnecessary, the piles of “extra things” that weigh us down physically and spiritually.
Of course, doing without things must be relative. A carpenter for instance needs tools, a physician needs expensive clinical equipment, a housewife needs kitchen utensils, a lawyer – shelves of reference books. But all of us, some more than others, can find many material possessions we can do without, things that keep us from thinking, speaking, and acting freely. We cannot follow the will of God, if we are tied down by many attachments.
We are on a journey to heaven. The less “baggage” we carry the more we can concentrate on essentials, the more time we can give to the spiritual. Let us travel like Jesus and his original followers.