15th Sunday – Ordinary Time

Mk 6:7-13

Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits. He 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. He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave. Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them.” So they went off and preached repentance. The Twelve drove out many demons, and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

By Fr. Aldo, sx

I read recently a story about a group of young people who ventured to climb a high mountain undergoing a very challenging journey. While preparing for their adventure, one of them who had more experience, told the others to bring just the strictly necessary otherwise they would get too tired soon. However one of them who had no experience and was quite stubborn, insisted in filling his bag with all sort of things that he judged that he would need. Before reaching half way, he threw away almost half of what he was carrying and a little bit ahead he threw away some other things; only with a lighter load he manage to reach the goal: the top of the mountain.

There is a Brazilian writer (João Kruguer) who wrote and lived his whole life guided by the following maxim: “Only the necessary is necessary.” This thought alone dismantles the structure of consumerism of our times which empties men and women of their values, convincing them that happiness is related to the capacity to consume. Thus we realize how actual is the concern of Jesus expressed in today’s Gospel.

Those who want to be disciples of the Lord must know that they cannot place their security in the consumable goods which the shopping malls and the media keep on storming us with. This is so because what we are announcing is millions of times more precious than any other thing.

When I was a kid, there was a street vendor who always passed by selling home-made sweets which he himself prepared. They were so delicious, in fact a temptation for the kids and a torture for the parents every time he passed by with his blue pushcart. One day, however, I felt badly disappointed when I saw him buying sweets for his own consumption in a convenience store. He did not trust in the quality of the delicacies that he himself produced.

Like him, the missionaries run the risk of putting their security in something other than the Gospel they announce.  And if this happens, their message has no credibility. If the evangelizer is a carrier of the most valuable thing in the world which is the Gospel, why then would they attach themselves to something else, valuing them more than the message they carry?

Thus, for this mission, only the necessary is necessary: a staff, one tunic and sandals. Bread will never lack to those who give the real bread. As for the bag (specially a plastic bag), it would only add to the garbage that eventually ends up clogging some water drainage canal, provoking environmental disasters. Money at the belt means power, but the hearts of people are never for sale; in fact preachers who buy their listeners with money or any other material thing, will eventually remain alone and speaking to him or herself in the end.

The hospitality, home, support and friendship of others can be very instrumental in supporting the mission and encouraging the announcers, but all of these should not steal the freedom of the missionaries and prevent them from speaking out what he or she is supposed to say.

On the part of the receptors of the message, they must accept the Gospel and embraced it in all its totality or not. It is all or nothing. It is true however that many people would rather prefer a fragmented Gospel in the sense of choosing only what they like. But that is not possible.

Dear brothers, let examine our readiness to handle the ministry which Jesus wishes us to exercise on his behalf? The Lord entrusts us with his gifts and talents. Are we really eager to place ourselves at his service, to do whatever he bids us, and to witness him to whomever he sends us?

“Lord Jesus, make us a channel of your grace and healing love that others may find life and freedom in you. Free us from all other attachments that we may joyfully pursue the things of the Kingdom of God. May we witness the joy of the gospel both in word and deed.”

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