Thursday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Heb 12:18,19,21-24; Ps 48:2-4,9-11; Mk 6:7-13:  Even the mountain where the LORD dwells is the joy of all the earth.  His praise is great in the city of our God and in all the cities of the world.  For his holy mountain is the fairest of heights, its beauty fills the eyes of all who gaze upon it with tears of delight. This holy mountain is none other than Mount Zion found in the recesses of the north.  It is the city of the Great King, the LORD who made heaven and earth. The LORD is renowned over all the earth, and his city is a stronghold for all who revere him.  We make pilgrimage to this holy mountain so we can ponder his mercy within the Temple.  As the Name of the LORD reaches to the ends of the earth, so too, his praise reaches to the ends of the earth.  Since his right hand is full of justice, we dare to hope that his justice will cover the earth as water covers the sea.  Indeed, we have heard and seen in the city of the LORD of hosts, great mercy and gracious healing.  We ponder his mercy and proclaim his kindness.  His praise is the desire of our hearts, and with our great high priest we pour ourselves out as a living sacrifice; here at this liturgy we embrace the means and goal of our lives, the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.

After the loud voice from heaven on the Mount of Transfiguration the disciples heard no one and were touched by the hand of the Lord Jesus.  After generations of the blazing fires of sacrifice in the temple and gloomy darkness of slavery and exile, our ancestors heard a voice speaking words such that those who heard begged that no message be further spoken.  The demands of the covenant delivered to Moses upon the Mount of Sinai were too much to bear.  Even Moses was terrified and trembling.  Was anyone ready to live out such a covenant?  Can we hope to approach the city of the Living God?  Are we ready, or will we ever be ready to enter the heavenly Jerusalem and behold the countless angels in festal gathering?  Can we come face to face with God the judge of all, and the spirits of the just made perfect?  Not without The Mediator of a new covenant.  Not without the sprinkled Blood that speaks more eloquently than that of Abel.  Indeed, it is the Blood of Christ that alone can purify and enable our hearts to rejoice and be glad.  No longer do our hearts tremble with terror.  No longer do we hesitate to approach the future glory.  Indeed, we have happy feet as we approach.  Our hearts are glad and our spirits rejoice to follow the Lamb of God wherever he leads us, from town to town to proclaim the gospel and announce the arrival of the Kingdom.

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?