The first sentence in this Gospel is enough to take your breath away: “He summoned the Twelve and began to send them out…and gave them authority…” (Mary 6:7). The disciples had been with Jesus for a while. They had heard him preach; they had seen him perform miracles. They had also seen him be rejected. Now it was their turn to go out and do what they had seen him do. Even though this was the first time Jesus’ instructions are minimal and austere. The bottom line seems to be, “Go, do what I have done, be aware that you will face difficulty, and trust that your needs will be met.”
Imagine Jesus standing before you, your prayer group, or committee and saying those words to you. In a very real sense, that is exactly what happens when we are dismissed, or rather sent forth, from our eucharistic celebrations every Sunday. The time and place, the culture and circumstances are different, but the call is the same. The mission Jesus gave to his disciples and gives to us is not something that originates within himself; it is the mission that comes from the Father that Jesus received upon his baptism by John. When we were baptized, we were anointed “priest, prophet, and king.” By our baptism, we are summoned and given the challenge to be bearers of the Good News and to preach repentance.
Twenty-first century western civilization is a far cry from first century Palestine. Simplifying our “load” presents more of a challenge than it did two thousand years ago, but it is not impossible. We may not be traveling to nearby towns or distant shores in missionary work; perhaps our own mission field is our family, our workplace, our school, our neighbourhoods, or even our own parish. We have the opportunity to respond to the summons, to our baptismal call, on a daily basis.
Yours in Christ,
Fr. Gaspar Masilamani, CMF