This week we encounter Jesus sending out the twelve disciples for the first time. He sends them without even the barest of necessitates: no money, no bag, no change of clothes -- just a walking stick and sandals! He orders them to stay at the first house that offers them hospitality…so they are not to move from house to house seeking nicer lodgings or better food. And Jesus lets them know that, like in Nazareth, they too may be rejected by the people to whom they go. And if they are rejected they are simply to shake the dust of that town from their sandals and move on.
It is quite an austere image of a missionary that the Gospel paints today. Could you imagine yourself setting out on a journey, leaving your home without money, without a change of clothes…not to mention leaving behind cell phones and tablets! Imagine heading out to other towns and villages, full of excitement and trepidation with only the story of Jesus to tell. Nothing else, just the story of Jesus!
In his book, Christianity Rediscovered, Spiritan Fr. Vince Donovan recounts his and other Spiritans’ missionary activity amongst the Maasai peoples in East Africa. Vince tells wonderful stories of people hearing, for the first time, the story of Jesus and how amazed they were, and the discussions that would arise around these stories of Jesus’ words and actions. After they had come to believe in Jesus they would seek to join this community of believers. But he also notes that sometimes people rejected the story of Jesus and then they, like the earliest disciples, would head onto the next village…for the Gospel exists for the sake of being shared. And through its sharing we come to know Jesus and live in him and he in us!
With whom do I share the story of Jesus? How do I live the Gospel in my daily life? Is there anyone to whom I feel called to share the story of Jesus’ boundless love for us?