Am 7:12-15; Eph 1:3-14; Mk 6:7-13

– Fr Fernando Armellini SCJ
Claretian Publications, Macau

The gospel today opens with the sending out of the twelve. All disciples are sent, without exception. This indicates that the proclamation of the gospel is not a chore reserved for some members of the community.

The apostles are sent out two by two, not to keep each other company, but for a theological reason. Unlike Hinduism, Buddhism who encourage solitary spiritual pursuits, Christianity cannot but be lived in community, and to build a community, there need to be at least two. Whoever proclaims the gospel must remain in full harmony and communion with the Church.

Then Jesus instructs what equipment can be carried by the messengers of the Gospel. It must be very light: only one tunic, a pair of sandals, a stick and nothing else. The rest is a baggage that weighs down. The material resources must be reduced to the essentials.

In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus forbids a stick for it could be used as a weapon (Mt 10:10). The disciples of Christ are peacemakers, therefore, they repudiate all the tools that prompt the use of violence. In today’s passage, however, the apostles are allowed because the stick bears another symbolic meaning. Moses and Aaron, in pairs (“two by two”, as Jesus also recommended) fought against the oppressive forces of the pharaoh. They brought to completion the work of liberation of their people using a cane, a sign of God’s power. With it Moses worked wonders before Pharaoh (Ex 7:9-12). He stretched out his hand over the land of Egypt, and brought the locusts (Ex 10:13), divided the Red Sea (Ex 14:16), brought forth water from the rock (Ex 17:5-6).

Even the disciples of Christ can rely on a single force, the one delivered to them by Jesus: his word to be used against the ‘unclean spirits’.

What they should not carry with them is indicated: no food, no bag, no money … He cautions the disciples that the leaven of this world can infiltrate them, the belief that the success of the mission depends on the amount of material means available to them. Jesus never despised material goods, nor has he never presented poverty as an ideal of life. However, he warned his disciples against the danger of being influenced by wealth. They are not free to speak the truth and to express what they think if they have to please someone, who, like Amaziah is paid, and must be grateful.

Over the centuries the church has paid a heavy price to the agreements and alliances with the powerful of this world, the compromises with those who have offered privileges, favors and guarantees. She paid for them with the loss of freedom and autonomy.

Translated by Fr John Ledesma SDB
Abridged by Fr Jijo Kandamkulathy CMF

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