Thursday Fourth Week Ordinary Time 2011 : Gospel - Take Nothing For The Journey

Mass readings for today are here

Gospel Mark 6 :7-13

Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two
and gave them authority over unclean spirits.

He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick
–no food, no sack, no money in their belts.
They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic.

He said to them,
“Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave from there.

Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you,
leave there and shake the dust off your feet
in testimony against them.”

So they went off and preached repentance.
The Twelve drove out many demons,
and they anointed with oil many who were
sick and cured them.

Image of disciples "de dos en dos" from here 


When I read this Gospel I wonder at just how beautiful and straightforward it's message is and how messy our vision of mission has become .

Ron Rolheiser has this to say about modern mission in his article A Lesson From Some Young Missionaries.....

Extract below :-

"Sing to the Lord a new song!" How might we do that in terms of trying to make Christ credible today inside the secular world? What's our old song? What's missing in what we are presently doing? What can we do that's new? Haven't we already tried almost everything imaginable? 

There are, after all, only so many ways of doing ministry, of trying to preach, of reaching out to those who do not come to church with us. What more can we do?

Giving witness to Christ today requires precisely that we build communities that are wide enough to hold our differences. 

What we need is not a new technique, but a new sanctity; not a cooler dress, but a more inclusive embrace; not some updating of the gospel to make it more acceptable to the world, but a more courageous radiating of its wide compassion;not some new secret that catches peoples' curiosity, but a way of following Christ that can hold more of the tensions of our world in proper balance so that everyone, irrespective of temperament and ideology, will find themselves better understood and embraced by what we hold most dear."

and this one on Missionaries to Secularity (2002) is a good one too.

and although this one titled From Maintenance to Missionary dates back to 2001 it is still relevant when it says :-

"We know what to do for someone who comes to church, but we don't know how to get someone to come to church.

*We know how to be Christian when we are poor, under-educated, and culturally marginalized, but we struggle to be Christian when we are affluent, educated, and have a full place in the culture.

These over-simplifications speak volumes about the state of the church in the Western world. 

Simply put, today we are better at dealing with someone already sitting in our church pews than we are at getting anyone there in the first place. Our churches are strong on maintenance, weak on being missionary. "

I normally agree with Rolheiser but in my neck of the woods I wonder if the maintenance tasks are going down the drain too due to lack of priests, overworked and exhausted priests, an ageing congregation, a vacuum of youth and young adults to carry forward the tasks previously carried out by people who are now too old or sick to do it any more. I realise that there are parishes that are flourishing but there are also many that are struggling.

Stuart Murray has this to say: 

"The currency in use for measuring church growth has been the ABCs.. attendance, buildings, and cash. If a church has these in measure and expanding, it has been considered fruitful. But these are entirely secular values, imported from the business world in a capitalist and consumer culture. A biblical set of ABCs would look different: perhaps authenticity, belonging, and cultivating Christ."  

This inspiring essay is an excerpt on the life of St Francis  from JOHN DEAR'S new book, "You Will Be My Witnesses," available from Orbis Books which is for me the story of one who really did take nothing for the journey and as John Dear says"Francis is not just for the birds. 

His life example and witness hold the key to the solutions of all the world's problems. He may be the greatest of Jesus' witnesses."


Ian Morgan Cron, an Anglican priest and author in an interview said:

"I recently heard Ronald Rolheiser and Richard Rohr say that what the Church needs today more than anything is the emergence of a new St Francis, a man or woman whose life is radically aligned with the values of the gospel, yet who remains approachable, winsome and inspiring.
But how would society react to this person? Sadly, I think it would be the same old story. Good church-going Christians and the institutional church would be the first to reject him, whereas the irreligious and the marginalized would be the first to embrace him. The Church would resent him because of the depth of his or her commitment to Christ, and the advancement of his interests in the world would expose how far the church has departed from the gospel. The irreligious would love him because he would extend the gospel of radical grace and inclusion to them in a way that really would be good news. You can read the rest of the interview here. 

This poem by Naomi Shihab Nye speaks about kindness which certainly resonates with the Franciscan heart. 


Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.

What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.

How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.

You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and
purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

Naomi Shihab Nye

from The Words Under the Words


Anonymous said...

Oh Phil, one word...BINGO!!! Love the pictures too.

Jan said...

I so appreciate all your links and resources that you post. I am especially grateful for the mention of "Dating God" in the Thomas Merton birthday post; I am subscribing now to his thoughts. BTW, Ronald Rolheiser is the president of Oblate School of Theology where I (almost) earned a master's in theology.