Date: Sunday, July 15, 2018
“Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two..” Jesus summons and then sends. He calls “disciples” (those who follow him) and commissions them to be “apostles” meaning “those who are sent.” They are to travel light: with a walking stick and sandals but no food, no sack, no money, and no 2nd tunic! Can we imagine setting out with little or no provisions? Why two by two? Jesus wants the disciples to practice what they preach with their travelling partner and to help each other along the way. Why little or no provisions? So the “disciples now apostles” would discover God’s providence through the hospitality of those who hear their message and welcome them into their lives. They are to preach repentance, to drive out demons and to anoint with oil those who are sick.
Preaching with authority is not an easy to do. Ask Amos, the prophet, who is asked to leave the King’s sanctuary for speaking truth to power. Preaching with authority does not mean raising one’s voice and shouting people down. Preaching is sharing the Word of God with humility -- knowing the first one to hear God’s Word is the prophet or preacher him or herself and knowing the likelihood of rejection. Apostles are also called to exorcize demons. Expelling demons can only be done with great prayer and the power of God. We can imagine “the sent ones” leave with trepidation and feeling inadequate for the task at hand.
But surprisingly they carry out the mission: preaching repentance, driving out demons and anointing and curing the sick. Guess what? Jesus gives us a similar mission. We too are summoned and sent into the world proclaiming the Gospel of Life and sharing God’s mercy and goodness. An example for us is Fred Rogers. The documentary: “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” demonstrates a “radical kindness.” Mr. Rogers begins his children’s TV show not by taking a walking stick and putting on sandals but by putting on a sweater and changing his shoes. During the civil rights era when black children were thrown out of pools Mr. Rogers asked the black police officer who came to visit to bath his feet with him in a tub. After doing so Mr. Rogers dried his feet with a towel. Fred Rogers was a lifelong Republican and Presbyterian minister. The Gospel according to Fred: the child is closer to God than the adult; the sick are closer to God than the healthy; the poor are closer to God than the rich and marginalized closer than the celebrated. At one point in the series, the tiger puppet (Fred’s inner child) sang “Sometimes I wonder if I’m a mistake.” Mr. Rogers always tried to reassure children and he treated each child (every child listening and watching at home) with profound respect. “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” is in my Netflix queue. Often people are moved to tears by sadness but sometimes we are moved to tears by genuine goodness.