When we are in the car with our grandchildren on occasion we will pass the time playing a game “I’m going on a picnic and I’m going to bring . . . “ Each person lists what the previous people are bringing and adds what they want to bring. It is fun to hear what the little ones consider important or fun for a picnic. It helps me to know them in new ways and in a way to see through their eyes.
In today’s Gospel I can imagine Jesus playing a similar game with his disciples. But rather than having them make up the list of things for their travels, he gives them a list of essentials they will need. First, he sendsthem two by two. They were to take a walking stick, sandals, and a single tunic. No food, or money! He told them to rely on the hospitality of those they met. If they were not treated well, to move on “shaking the dust off their feet.” How did Jesus come up with this “Basic Kit for Disciples on the Journey” and what might this kit teach us about our journey as disciples today?
Jesus seems to be telling us to travel light! Don’t get distracted by things you don’t need. As disciples we need a companion we can count on—someone who will travel with us no matter what, who will help us remember what and whom is important, who will encourage us, celebrate with us, and cry with us. They will share the tasks of proclaiming the Reign of God, healing brokenness, and shaking off the rejection and close-mindedness we will encounter. A walking stick can provide sure-footedness when the going gets tough, sandals protection from the sharp edges, and a tunic warmth and comfort.
Traveling without food or money tells us we need to trust—trust in the goodness of people and in God’s promise to provide what we need. Perhaps most importantly, Jesus “gave them authority over unclean spirits.” Jesus gave each of us this authority for discipleship as we began our journey with him at Baptism. Some words that might help us understand this notion of authority are power, influence, ability, conviction, sureness, or knowledge.
When I travel I prefer a big suitcase filled with everything I may need just in case. However, the weight of the suitcase is tiring. Traveling light allows me the ability to be more observant, to listen, and to be more present to others. It creates a balance of interdependence to reflect the love of God to the world and to seek God in every encounter.
What are YOUR essentials for the journey? What must you leave behind?
He Would Love First!
October 24, 2020
A July Faith Formation Series – Part IV – APOSTOLIC