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Jesus called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. He said to them, ‘Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money – not even an extra tunic. Whatever house you enter, stay there, and leave from there. Wherever they do not welcome you, as you are leaving that town shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.’ They departed and went through the villages, bringing the good news and curing diseases everywhere.
How do you prepare for a journey? Whether it be going to your place of work or going away for a holiday, what sort of preparations do you make? Do you make lists of things to pack, or do you make piles of things that you may need? If your trip is for leisure, rather than business, do you go through the added routine of buying new things? And what about preparing for unpredictable weather? Do you take multiple changes of clothes in various thicknesses and levels of waterproofing? All of these considerations tend to dominate our thinking before leaving the comfort and security of our homes.
Then comes another question: what happens if an emergency arises and you have to leave home unexpectedly and at very short notice? Does the lack of preparation (and worrying) make any difference? Do you still arrive at your intended destination? Do you fulfil the function of your journey? If some need suddenly arises, are you not able to plug the gap with comparative ease? What effect does travelling lighter make?
In today’s reading, Jesus sends out his disciples to proclaim the kingdom of God. We do not know how much notice they had of this commission, but we do know that he headed off the pre-journey crises by telling them to go just as they were. Jesus told them to: Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money – not even an extra tunic. I know they were living in different times, but Jesus’ instructions suggest that a prudent traveller would still have undergone some ritual of preparation and packing. However, Jesus heads this off with his very clear and firm injunctions against the disciples burdening themselves with ‘stuff’.
No matter which way you read this moment in Luke’s gospel, there is something new for us to learn. We are being shown the importance of trust as we journey through this world in Christ’s name. Like Matthew in yesterday’s reading, we are called to go where Jesus sends us, sweeping aside all that may delay our departure. We are being shown that our trust needs to encompass all that we may need. If we proclaim that God is everywhere and that God will provide out of his generosity and love, we need to demonstrate that trust in the way we conduct our own lives. And, when others reject us, we should not be disheartened or discouraged. There are always people who believe they have the right to dominate others. This domination encompasses criticising the faith of others just as much as it encompasses controlling their behaviours. Jesus’ message in the face of such opposition is simple: walk away and let them get on with it! Leave the matter of judgement to God. We are called to continue our journey in good faith, trusting that God is with us.
Let us pray that we might journey in faith, trusting in God alone. Let us pray that we might not be discouraged and disheartened by those who criticise and mock. Let us pray that we might be forever seeking new places to proclaim the Good News that is Jesus Christ.