All three of the synoptic gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke share instructions for the journey into mission field…. Matthew and Mark tend to focus on healing, Luke on evangelizing… they all wrote of both of Jesus directives.
The gospels are wrapped in the stories of calling, forming, and sending… we use those terms often …. we are called by God, formed by our faith community in relationship with each other and with God, and sent into the world as God’s agents, or angels, to assist in co-creating the reign of heaven.
We use two common names in describing this process…. disciples, from Latin discipulus, one who learns, and apostle from the Greek, the one sent…. messenger, an envoy, one sent with authority. The Latin missio we understand as missionary or missioner.
Consider in your own ongoing journey those times where you are the student, the listener, the disciple… and again, when you were being sent out, an apostle sent with a mission, with authority. As Christians we believe that we are both formed and sent… to do Gods work, God’s mission in the world, not our own.
We should not be confused about whose mission it is…. we believe it is God’s mission and not our mission….
Consider the 4 directives that Mark describes in the Gospel….
7He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority…
It was no accident how this community was gathered and followed Jesus; they were called. We have heard the stories of the manner Jesus selected them from common ordinary people, and they left what they had and followed…. He taught and organized them, as he teaches us
through stories, examples, and practical experience… through their journey he gave them examples of success and failure, and when he believed, they were prepared sent them out two by two, with his blessing.
Notice the basic organizing strategy… don’t go alone…go in pairs… even Jesus worked with a team.
We can imagine that they protested…..that they did not sign up for this job….they were good just hanging out, planning the next party or meal, sharing stories, and learning from Jesus, but he had other plans. We can imagine that they argued they just needed one more week, or month, or year of training….
Have you ever argued this case in your life; at school, work, or in the world? Have you tried to procrastinate wrestling with God about doing God’s mission in the world? I believe we are always tempted to stay put…in our safe comfort zones…begging for just one more study, or conversation, or vacation or fill in your own blank…
8He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics.
I can imagine over their protestations Jesus made this simple for them…. You have what you need; you don’t need a Recreation Vehicle to go camping… just carry what you need, and make it simple.
Jesus is also instructing not to carry along your laptop full of nifty speeches, quotes, and favorites… but to just carry Jesus and faith alone in your heart…
I wonder when we travel if we clutter up our journeys with the stuff we need to carry along, and miss the discipleship of the journey?
10He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place.
Jesus did want the apostles looking for the best shelter, the best meal, the softest bedding….he understood that sometimes we are most needed where we are the most uncomfortable…and that our words and actions might be most welcome where the challenge might be the greatest.
Have you ever been on a vacation traveling to visit a friend or relative and wished you had made other arrangements….perhaps with better accommodations….or perhaps a friend or relative that shared your opinions on most things. Jesus knew from his experience that being a prophet in his own land, with his own family, would be a challenge, yet he moved every forward towards Jerusalem.
11If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them
There is always a plan B…. I personally believe this is the most sound psychological advice from all of scripture…. If your peace is not returned to you, shake off the dust, and move on…
How many of us try to change the opinions of others, when their hearts are hardened…and their minds made up? Where there is no common ground…. We live in these times…. When we visit with a relative where you really are not welcome, and you really don’t want to be there, but are driven by a false sense of duty, or responsibility.
Consider the blessing we sometimes use… ‘life is short and we haven’t much time’… or the old camp song I learned at Bishop Bloy Camp in California, ‘there ain’t no flies on Jesus, he is moving all the time’….
Do what you can and move on… Always good advice… Love one another as I have loved you and move on….
This raises the deeper question for me…what would our history have looked like if early Christians had followed this gospel? Clearly, the The Way of Love is in direct conflict with the historical Roman Empire model of conquest, domination, and control. Imagine what our world would look like if we had followed the Way of love more fully?
Consider, shake the dust off your feet…. Perhaps an insult…but also a metaphor for leaving behind your own anxiety, anger, frustration, moving on with a clearer vision, and the reflection that you have practiced the Way of Love the best you can, living in the baptismal commitments you have made with God’s help.
How often do we stay in disagreement with others? What would our lives, our world look like if we simply moved on?
12So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. 13They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.
Take a breath, and consider for a moment how have we in our life cast out demons, and cured the sick? Have we engaged in conversation regarding the freedom to marry, and the safety of LGBTQ+ friends? Have we spoken up to defend women’s rights in all manifestations? Have we stood up for the poor, the immigrant, or the outcast? Have we taken action to put an end to war and torture, or racism, or classism? Have we done all you can to end gun violence? Have we tutored children stuck in the achievement gap?
We will with God’s help….