15TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR B ON JULY 11, 2021 (R. 1: Amos 7:12-15; Psalm 85:9-10, 11-12, 13-14; R. 2: Ephesians 1:3-14 or 1:3-10; Gospel: Mark 6:7-13)
FR EMMANUEL OCHIGBO
BASIC TRAVEL INSTRUCTIONS FOR MISSIONARIES
Thank God it is summer! In the summer, many people go on vacation. When we travel, especially by plane, we remind ourselves to travel light to avoid paying for extra luggage. We also visit the TSA website to check items that are prohibited on the plane. Today’s gospel passage appears like Jesus is preparing his apostles for a flight. He is instructing them to travel light and giving them a list of what to take and what not to take. Let us look at three aspects of the instructions of Jesus to his apostles: the first is, travel light, the second is travel in pairs, and the third is on how to deal with rejections.
Why is Jesus instructing them to travel light? It is because Jesus is preparing them to rely on divine Providence. They are going for a very important mission to deliver the good news. So, they must rely on the God who is sending them to provide for their needs. Carrying extra luggage will be an expression of lack of faith in the God who is sending them. Jesus gives them this instruction to avoid distractions. They must leave behind, whatever is not going to help the delivery of the good news.
On the second point, Jesus sends them out in twos so they can preach, not only by their words but by their actions. Their listeners will not only listen to them but also look at how they practice the faith themselves. The listeners will be attentive to how the apostles relate with each other, how they resolve conflicts among themselves, and how they share what they have. The people will look at them and learn not only from what they say but also from what they do.
On the final note, Jesus prepares them for rejection, he says to them, “…Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there, and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them,” and move on to the next place. “To be forewarned is to be forearmed.” Rejection is no excuse for not continuing the mission. Some will reject the gospel, but their rejection must not be a reason for the apostles to stop preaching, the apostles must move on to those who are ready to receive the Gospel.
Just like the apostles, we are all missionaries. Each one of us is in this world for a unique assignment from God. So, we apply these instructions to ourselves. The first one, travel light, reminds us that none of us is a permanent resident in this world, none of us is a citizen here on earth. We are all on visitor’s visa on earth. We must not accumulate material wealth as if we will live here forever. Whatever will not help the unique mission that God has sent us to carry out here on earth must be put aside.
The second instruction says we must travel in pairs. Human relationship is the true test of our faith. It is by the way we relate with one another that people will know that we are Christians. Our knowledge of the bible, the number of times we pray and fast, our religious titles are useless if they don’t reflect in our human relationships.
The third instruction is on our response to rejection. It is a blessing to know that rejection is a possibility. The prophet Amos got his own share of the rejection in the first reading. Jesus was also rejected by his own people in last Sunday’s gospel passage. When we are rejected, we must shake it off and move on. Some people fail to do good works because they are afraid of what other people would say. The instruction from Jesus today tells us that rejection is not an excuse. We must do our own part; everyone will be judged not based on how they were received by others, but rather based on what they did.
May God grant us the grace to know our unique mission and to carry them out effectively despite obstacles on our way, so that at the end of our sojourn here on earth, when we get to heaven, God may say to us, “Well done, good and faithful servant, now enjoy what I have kept as your inheritance,” through Christ our Lord. Amen.