Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Advice for the Journey

By Colleen O’Sullivan
Jesus summoned the Twelve and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick. He said to them, “Take nothing for the journey, neither walking stick, nor sack, nor food, nor money, and let no one take a second tunic. Whatever house you enter, stay there and leave from there. And as for those who do not welcome you, when you leave that town, shake the dust from your feet in testimony against them.” Then they set out and went from village to village proclaiming the good news and curing diseases everywhere. (Luke 9:1-6)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, on your own intelligence do not rely; in all your ways be mindful of him, and he will make straight your paths.  (Proverbs 3:5-6)

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus sends the Twelve out to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick.  He gives his beloved friends a set of explicit instructions for their first mission on their own.  As I read the Lord’s words, they sound like good advice to all of us on living out our Christian faith. 

First of all, Jesus says, travel light.  Baggage only weighs a person down and slows his or her footsteps.  How true this is.  Think of the things that keep us plodding joylessly from one day to the next and prevent us from proclaiming the Good News full speed ahead – old wounds still festering; lingering resentments; perceived or real injustices experienced; too many ties that bind us to the ways of the world, such as credit card debt, big houses, expensive cars, hunger for human recognition and praise, etc.  Traveling light means letting go of these things, carrying only what is necessary – hearts that are firmly rooted in Christ.  That’s all we need for the journey.

Second, Jesus talks about perseverance and knowing when to let go and when to move on.  You’d think the Lord would never want us to give up, but he was a realist.  He himself met many folks who didn’t want to listen to a thing he had to say.  He performed miracles, he healed the sick, he raised Lazarus from the dead.  None of it touched them.  And Jesus had to leave them behind and keep on going, because there are always other people in other places hungry for the Word.  I learned this firsthand as a pastor.  I had a church member who had had surgery and was also suffering from a couple of chronic illnesses.  When she came home from the hospital, I got a copy of her dietary restrictions from her doctor and organized the women’s group to bring her meals.  I even cooked a few myself.  She was grateful, but, at the same time, she didn’t follow the doctor’s instructions and kept getting worse.  We went to the same doctor, and one day he reminded me of today’s reading from Luke.  He said she knew what she needed to do and I had done my best for her, but he was sure there were many other church members also in need of my care.  So, don’t stop and fixate on one unreceptive person.  Keep on going.  That’s what Jesus did.  There was always another town, another village, more sick people, more sinners in need of forgiveness, another poor soul possessed by demons.  The world needs to hear the Word, so Jesus asks us to keep on sowing the seeds. 


What burden are you carrying around that prevents you from giving the journey your full attention?  When you pray, ask God to help you find a way to set it down.  Also, pray for the wisdom to know when to let go and when to move on in proclaiming the Gospel.

No comments: