Greetings to all,
In the Gospel reading of this Sunday, we continue to listen from the Gospel of Mark where Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two-by-two and gave them authority over unclean spirits. In reading this gospel, what drew my intention most was the instructions that Jesus gave his disciples before sending them out on the mission. St Mark reports to us that, “He instructed them to take nothing for their journey except a staff, no bread, no bag, no money in their purse but to only wear sandals and not even take a change of clothes.”
Why would Jesus give these instructions to his disciples? Doesn’t he want them to succeed in this mission? Would it be better for them to have everything they need, so they can concentrate on doing what he sent them out to do?
As I was searching for answers, two reasons emerged that I found quite appealing in the instructions of Jesus. The first reason was from a practical perspective: the advice Jesus gave his disciples was quite reasonable. In Jesus’ day many people travelled on foot at night. The daytime temperatures could be extremely hot and uncomfortable. The Middle Eastern wilderness could be a dangerous place at any time. But the dark of night, although cooler, could be especially risky. Robbers and thugs would often attack unsuspecting, vulnerable travellers. Bringing along money, valuables and even food might make one the target of attack and injury. Jesus’ advice to his disciples is very much based upon his loving concern for the safety of the disciples.
The second reason, supported by many theologians, was that with their lack of food, money, and clothing, Jesus wanted to teach His disciples a very important lesson: to depend on and trust in Him with their every need. They are learning to listen to His word and to obey whatever He says. And that is the most important lesson His disciples have to learn in their life and in their mission.
The two-fold purpose of Jesus’ instructions can also be a real challenge for us to learn as we follow Jesus. The world we live in, being independent becomes an essential element that we need to have in every aspect of our life. As we get older, it is even more important to stay independent. The call of the Gospel, however, is a call to dependence. It is a call to rely completely on our God. It is a call to obedience and faithfulness to the one who has given His life so that we might live. This dependence on Jesus is a dependence that we all must learn as we draw closer to Him and allow Him to work in our lives.
Our trust in God and our dependence on Him is, first and foremost, a true sign of Jesus’ discipleship. Secondly, equally important is to recognise the mission that Jesus entrusted to us as His disciples. That is the mission to preach, to heal, to evangelise, to bring the Good News to others.
We are all called to this mission. We must walk together on that path, lifting up each other and bringing the love of Jesus to those around us. As, Mark clearly reports to us that, Jesus sends disciples out in pairs. In doing that Jesus assures the disciples that the mission must be done in fellowship, by building relationships that will extend the body of Christ. So our mission is building and extending relationships wherever Jesus leads us and to keep developing this sense of mission in our lives so that others become a part of it. That is what Jesus asks of us in the Gospel today.
Have a Blessed week, Fr Dang