1Kgs 2:1-4, 10-12; 1 Chronicles 29:10,11ab,11d-12a,12bcd; Mk 6:7-13
Saint Paul Miki and his fellow martyrs were the clay vessels that held the treasure of the Kingdom of God. The Father’s promise of life eternal in his Son, Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit was the treasure more precious than life in this world. These Japanese converts were, priests, Jesuits, carpenters, and cooks. In their own communities they were a threat to the Emperor and his sovereign majesty. These believers were accused of giving to God what belonged to the Emperor. Such a dangerous attitude was an insult to the traditions of the people, and it reeked of the possible western domination of Japan. However, these bold martyrs kept the word of the Lord in their hearts, and they refused to stray from the Lord and his commands. They preferred the treasure of God’s Word to the thought of living in denial of the ordinances from the mouth of the LORD. Now they join with all the saints in glory because they have discovered the true treasure of life, a share in the very divine life of the Holy Trinity.
The nation of Israel, a world power under King David is about to go through a transition. The Twelve are moving along in their formation program, and in today’s gospel they are preparing for the transition of the Paschal Mystery. We, too, are spending these couple of weeks after the final glimpse of the celebration of the incarnation during the Feast of the Presentation. just two days ago, and before we enter into the season of Lent. Transitions are times of great insecurity, for a nation, for a church, and for an individual. Indeed, we must pray with Solomon in the words of today’s responsorial: “Blessed may you be, O LORD, God of Israel our father from eternity to eternity.” We find our deepest security and our greatest blessing in the LORD who has always been faithful, and who continues to be faithful to his children. With Solomon and all our ancestors in the faith we have seen with eyes touched by his grandeur, power, majesty, splendor, and glory. Such a vision calls forth our praise and exaltation. All honor and all riches are from the LORD, blessed be His Holy Name. We are in His Hands. We are safe and secure in His Hands. Indeed, the LORD gives us grandeur and strength. His Word enlightens our mind and His Eucharist fills our deepest longing for intimacy.
Wisdom is passed from fathers to sons even now in our families. King David is being a loving father here; his final instructions for his son, Solomon, are for all the children of Israel. They are valuable even at this time in our history. We all need to hear the wisdom of our ancestors who have lived through great success and dismal failure, and still have faith. The way of all flesh is through death. No one escapes death. Even the Faithful Son of David, the Lord Jesus passes through death into resurrection. This passage is fearful, but it is not paralyzing. Indeed, we can take courage in the face of death because the Lord Jesus has gone on before us. Indeed, he is the Way, and being the Way, he is the Truth and the Life. Indeed, there is no other. It is the revelation of God through Moses that we have the wisdom we need to remain faithful with our whole heart and our whole soul. For Solomon this faithfulness will unfold in the promise of God to his father being fulfilled in Christ, the Lord. This promise is not just for Solomon; it is for all who share the wisdom of Moses, the Old and the New Moses, Jesus the Christ. Indeed, our security and our identity is found in the wisdom of the Law both, the new and the old. Indeed, the new is understood from the old and the old is fulfilled in the new.
At this point in Saint Mark’s gospel the Twelve are ready to be tested. Have they learned enough from the Master? Are they ready to have their spirit tried? Are they in the transforming union? Conversion and wisdom are essential to being a follower of Christ who is ready to be sent out to continue the mission of the Master. The Lord Jesus sends them out two by two to mirror the divine movement of the Son and the Holy Spirit out of Eternity and into time and space. The Father sends his Only Begotten Son upon whom the Holy Spirit has rested from the moment of his being begotten in eternity. As he sent them, the Lord Jesus gave very specific instructions. He commanded them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick. They were to wear sandals for the Way is long and hard on the feet. No one could take an extra tunic because they are always on call, and there’s no time to change into something they are not already. They are to wear the wedding garment; they are to be ready at all times for the Master’s return. The Twelve must encourage all to be hospitable; for all to reveal the ways of God among us as the church so that all people will want what we have, or rather what has us in its grasp. When the Twelve or any of us experience rejection we are to sake the dust off our feet and move on until we do find listeners. With these instructions the Twelve went off to drive out unclean spirits, anoint the sick with oil and cure them. Are we ready to be sent out from the Lord Jesus with the companion the Lord provides?