Gospel – Mark 6: 7 – 13
A reoccurring theme in the message of Jesus is that of surrendering all to God. Three examples are: “I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me.” (John 6:38, ), “He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, saying, ‘“My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.’” (Matthew 26:39) and the third is probably most familiar to us in that when Jesus taught the Lord’s Prayer we pray, “thy will be done.” In the Gospel this weekend Jesus instructs the disciples that one must leave your possessions behind. In a sense he is saying not to think about possessions, think about serving the Lord. This reflects the first of the great commandments that Jesus gives us, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and all your mind.” Mt. 22: 36 – 40. Jesus is not seeking half-hearted followers, but only those who have the desire to wholeheartedly embrace him.
Jesus tells his disciples this as he gives them instructions before sending them out to minister. He is not only giving them the mission of preaching repentance and casting out demons, he is also giving them a very basic lesson on the cost of discipleship. To be a Disciple of Jesus costs all that we have. There is not room for the dollar store disciple, or a disciple with coupons that will allow him to save something. To be a disciple of Jesus one must be willing to surrender all to the Lord. He is very particular about this, “take nothing for the journey but a walking stick – no food, no sack, no money in your belts.” (Mk 6:8) This giving up of our heart, our will and our mind is to be done freely, for God cannot force us to surrender. He instructs, encourages and invites, but there is always the freedom to hold back.
For most of us the thought of surrendering our possessions is one we would rather avoid. This Gospel might be an opportunity for us to take a good look at what we have and do a mid-Summer cleaning of our homes, our closets and cabinets. This would be a good start towards surrendering, for surrendering is far more than just getting rid of our old, used and no longer needed items. Surrendering is an attitude of the heart that would have us see Christ as the most important possession we have, and to strive towards him being the only worthwhile possession. Beginning this process of changing our hearts and letting go is difficult, but once we begin we realize that the less we carry on this journey, the easier the journey becomes. Christ becomes more and more the center of our lives and all else becomes just things on the periphery.
Through our Baptism and Confirmation we are called to take on the mission of Christ. It is the mission we see in the Gospel for today as Jesus sends out the Apostles to minister two by two. It is the mission Jesus gives to the Apostles the Disciples and the Church in Matthew’s Gospel at the Ascension, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit…” Mt. 28:19 This is our mission and we prepare best for it when we surrender more and more of ourselves and welcome Christ more and more into our lives.
Father Killian Loch, O.S.B.
Photo: Tim Cairns