TWO INSTRUCTIONS FROM JESUS
After 20 centuries of Christianity, it’s hard to listen to Jesus’ instructions to his own without getting embarrassed. It’s not about trying to live them out literally. No. Simply don’t act against the spirit they contain. I’ll just remember two instructions.
Jesus sends his disciples to the villages of Galilee as «lambs in the midst of wolves». Who today believes that this should be our identity in a society mixed up in all kinds of conflicts and confrontations? And yet we don’t need more wolves among us, but more lambs. Each time we nourish aggressivity and resentment from within the Church or from our surroundings, or we throw insults and attacks that make mutual understanding more difficult, we are acting against the spirit of Jesus.
The «first» thing his disciples should communicate on entering a house is: «Peace to this house». Peace is the first sign of God’s reign. If the Church doesn’t introduce peace into our living together, we Christians are annulling our first task at the root.
The other watchword is more unsettling: «Take no purse with you, no haversack, no sandals». Jesus’ followers will live like the beggars they meet on their path. They won’t carry money or provisions. They will walk barefoot, as so many of the poor do who don’t have a pair of leather sandals. They won’t even bring a backpack, as certain wandering philosophers did.
Everyone will be able to see their passion for the least by their way of dressing and equipping themselves. What’s surprising is that Jesus isn’t thinking in what they should carry with them, but precisely the opposite: in what they ought not bring; to make sure that they don’t distance themselves too much from the poorest people.
How can we translate for today this spirit of Jesus in the society of well-being? Not by simply resorting to an outfit that identifies us as members of a religious institution or officials of an office in the Church. Each one must humbly revise what level of life, what behaviors, what word, what attitude best identifies us with the least.
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf