•Amos 7:12-15 • Ephesians 1:3-14 • Mark 6:7-13•
Scripture Readings:15th Sunday in Ordinary Time
As John Henry Cardinal Newman was attempting to find his way in life, he gradually realized his meandering path as “vocation” or “call.” He became convinced that Gracious Mystery we name God created him for a purpose. As a man of faith he recognized the hand and heart of God in the midst of his life journey. This led him to write,”I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons.” I think your experience and mine are no different than his.
Contemplate the text of today’s Gospel and apply it to our own experience. In reviewing the path of my own life, I recognize the hand and heart of God in the midst of it all. I become ever more convinced that Gracious Mystery we name God is deeply and intimately present leading and guiding me/us to the fullness of being human and fully alive. I hope you do as well.
According to Mark, Jesus did not send his disciples out on to continue his work without preparation. His instructions were simple. “Take nothing; not food or luggage, not money or a change of clothes.” Anxiety about personal security is normal. Concern about things like bread, luggage, clothing or money limits our freedom to love. “Take nothing; not food or luggage, not money or a change of clothes.” Be equipped only with his healing power of love. Then we can experience the hand and heart of God guiding us.
So “with only a staff and sandals” they “went out” among their peers. They went into their society equipped only with his healing power of love. They “drove out many demons, and anointed and healed many sick people.”
In loving those they encountered, they alleviated human suffering and freed others to love one another as brother and sister. In imitation of Jesus they enabled those they encountered to be fully human and fully alive. They were acting on behalf of Jesus and in doing so they were awakening their peers to “God’s new reality” emerging among them.
In her book “Teaching a Stone to Talk”, Annie Dillard tells a story of an 1845 British expedition to the Arctic. Two ships were overloaded with unnecessary luxurious provisions, hardly suited for a trip through such harsh weather conditions. Among the provisions loaded was a large library of books, exquisite china, cut crystal, engraved silverware, and the finest of fashion ware.
From the start, the ships held only a twelve-day supply of coal. If more necessary provisions of food and fuel had been included, the outcome might have been different. The ships became locked in the ice of the frigid Arctic. The crew abandoned the ships, perhaps in the hope of finding help or safety. Neither of the ships ever returned, nor did the crew survive.
In the years thereafter, the remains of the expedition were found throughout the frozen landscape. The body of an officer was found miles from the stranded ships, wearing his uniform of the finest cloth, silk, and braids. The bodies of others were found laden with silverware they carried to their deaths.
When I travel somewhere I try to appreciate the wisdom of Mark and apply it to myself. For example, in June I spent twenty days in Iceland. I brought with me only a medium sized backpack that will fit into the overhead bin on an airplane. My clothing is easy to wash and quick drying. Without a lot of stuff to encumber me, I was free to roam and absorb the harsh and beautiful environment of Iceland. I was free to enjoy the people I encountered. More importantly I was free to recognize the hand and heart of God in the midst of my journey.
Today Mark’s narrative calls all of us to be free of our burdensome concerns. Equipped only with his healing power of love, we are sent to continue the work of Christ. The work of Christ is enabling “God’s new reality” to emerge among us. The Gracious Mystery we name God is leading and guiding us. For all of us the meandering path of life is “vocation,” “call.” We are “a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons.”