Jesus said to the twelve, ‘As you go, proclaim the good news, “The kingdom of heaven has come near.” Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment. Take no gold, or silver, or copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, or two tunics, or sandals, or a staff; for labourers deserve their food. Whatever town or village you enter, find out who in it is worthy, and stay there until you leave. As you enter the house, greet it. If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. Truly I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgement than for that town.’
You have received without payment; give without payment.
We live in a world where everything seems to have been allotted some sort of monetary value. Both goods and services are valued in terms of cost and outcome. Even that which we are called to give freely often comes with a notional price tag attached. Today’s reading, which follows on from yesterday’s, does not only begin with a reminder of Jesus’ commission to go, proclaim the good news, but it also spells out exactly what that means.
As Jesus sends his disciples out into the world, and away from the comfort and safety of their own tight-knit circle, he paints a picture of what it means to journey in faith. As well as being charged with the task of bringing about healing, new life and new hope, they are charged with trusting in the bounty of God’s generous love. Rather than weighing ourselves down with what we believe we might need, Jesus urges us to trust in him. Jesus does not promise that we will travel in luxury, but he does make it clear that as we journey in faith we will travel in the certainty of his love and protection.
Then there are the words with which I opened today’s reflection: you have received without payment; give without payment. All that we have is a gift from God, and that gift came to us without charge. God’s bounty and God’s grace are free for all who trust in him. As we go in the name of Christ we are called to be no less generous. We have much to share in Christ’s name, and we have no right to expect payment for that which we received at no material cost.
Every aspect of our lives, including the churches we attend, obsess with money. We strive to raise funds, invest wisely and spend sparingly. We strive so hard for these things that we often forget Jesus’ instruction to go, proclaim the good news. While we are building up our reserves for that proverbial rainy day we fail to notice that we are drowning in a tsunami of worldly concerns and that our lives of faith are dying in a torrential storm.
Let us pray that Jesus’ commission may be the driving force in our lives. Let us pray that we might set aside our misguided love of worldly riches. Let us pray that we might shine with the generosity of Christ’s healing love and light.