15TH SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME
This Sunday our Gospel reading is all about Mission. Jesus summons the twelve apostles and sends them out on a missionary tour. The chosen followers of Jesus have to carry the word of God as a challenge to others. In that mission the apostles have the authority and the power of Jesus. They have to travel on that. They are not to rely on their own resources but on the authority that has been given to them and the hospitality that will be offered them. With no bread and no money, they have to depend on the kindness of others: that vulnerability makes their message their real resource. If they have bread to eat, it means that people are not only hospitable to them but to the word they preach. If they are not accepted, they have no option but to move on. And when a town rejects their message, the apostles are to shake the dust from their feet – a symbolic act performed by strict Jews returning to Palestine after journeying abroad. The Twelve went out and preached. Jesus and his Twelve preached that God would adopt humanity, making its members which include you and me “sons” and “daughters” of the Father This was Good News then just as it is now! In recent times we have seen the decline in people attending Church in our parishes for many reasons and I think we need to be like the twelve who were sent out with the message of Jesus but with one difference we need to seek out those who do not want to hear the message instead of shaking the dust off our feet we really need to let our feet get dirty. We have to have carry the word of God as a challenge to others and it should also be a challenge to ourselves in our time and place. There is much within the Church that needs to be challenged but there is so much more that is of value even now. In telling us about the beginning of the church in so dramatic a fashion, Mark, wants to be certain that disciples in his church and in the church of our time will be mindful of some important implications. We, like the first disciples, are inadequate for the task; yet Christ’s mission for God’s kingdom is given to us. If we labor under the illusion that we can bring about God’s reign on our own, we will be advancing something other than God’s kingdom on earth. Paul refers to his experience of preaching the gospel as foolishness (1 Corinthians 1: 1831). He relishes saying “we are fools for Christ’s sake? Because he understands that it is because of his weakness that the power of Christ can dwell in him (1 Corinthians 4: 10 and 2 Corinthians 12: 9). Of course, we know that is a task not confined to the clergy or to religious sisters and brothers. It is the job of every single member of the Church. The message of hope from today’s Gospel is that we don’t have to communicate the Gospel in highfaluting or overly technical language. We will be far more effective if we just use ordinary words and simple concepts. We don’t have to have spent years of study before we can explain what Christ means; we can do it quite easily using concepts we already understand as well as examples from our own lives.
The crucial point in the Gospel is that by doing things Jesus’ way the Apostles get close to the people, they understand their concerns and they share their life. There is no better way of communicating the love of God to the people around us than sharing the concerns of others and getting close to the people of God. Let us be fools for Christ like St. Paul as we remember that it is through our weakness that the power of Christ can dwell in us and work through us for other people.