Jesus doesn’t send his disciples out in just any old way. In order to collaborate on his project of God’s Reign and prolong his mission, they need to maintain a certain style of life. If not, they could do many things, but they wouldn’t introduce his spirit into the world. Mark reminds us about some of Jesus’ recommendations. Let’s look at a few.
In the first place, who are they to act in Jesus’ name? What is their authority? According to Mark, when he sends them, Jesus «gives them authority over unclean spirits». He doesn’t give them power over the people they will run into on their journey. Nor has he used his power to govern, but rather to heal.
As always, Jesus is thinking about a world that is more whole, one freed from the forces of evil that enslave and dehumanize us. His disciples will introduce his healing power among the peoples. They will open up paths in society, not using power over people, but humanizing life, alleviating people’s suffering, allowing freedom and fraternity to grow.
They will only take a «staff» and «sandals». Jesus imagines them as walkers. Never settled down. Always on the road. Tied to nothing and no one. Only with what’s essential. With the same agility that Jesus has to be present wherever someone needed him. Jesus’ staff isn’t for commanding, but for walking.
They are to take «neither bread, nor haversack, nor money». They mustn’t live obsessed with their own security. They carry with them something more important: Jesus’ Spirit, his Word and his Authority to humanize the life of all peoples. Curiously, Jesus isn’t thinking about what they need to take in order to be effective, but about what they don’t need to take. May the day never come when they forget the poor and live closed in by their own well-being.
Nor will they carry «a spare tunic». They will wear the simplicity of the poor. They won’t carry sacred vestments like the Temple priests. Nor will they dress like the Baptist in the loneliness of the desert. They will be prophets in the midst of the people. Their life will be a sign of God’s closeness to everyone – above all, for those most in need.
Will we someday dare to make, in the bosom of the Church, a collective examination of conscience in order to let ourselves be enlightened by Jesus and see how we have gone drifting away from his Spirit, almost without realizing it?
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf