July 6, 2003
(Mark 6: 7-13)
Two weeks ago, I told you that you were all called to become saints.
Last week, I told you were also called to become prophets. This week,
the church tells us that we are also called to become apostles, as well.
So we have our work cut out for us!
The other day I was in Taos, visiting my friend Trini who is an elder
at the Pueblo and one of the last remaining experts on building adobe
homes. He restored the pueblo and has children and grandchildren, and
we were talking about the terrible fire and life and God, and he was telling
me that every few weeks or so, for his prayer, he would go off into that
mountain forest alone, and sit in meditation for days on end and commune
with God. I consider him a true holy man, and at the end of our visit,
he gave me an amazing blessing, saying that God was sending me out into
the world as a servant of peace, to help stop all the killing on the earth
and to prepare for the day when people will never ever kill one another,
and I felt blessed and sent forth by this holy man of God.
As you know, the word “Disciple” comes from the same word
as discipline, and it means “student.” Jesus is the teacher
and the disciples were his students. The Greek word “apostle” means “one
who is sent.” Today Jesus names twelve apostles and sends them out
to do his work, so I thought we could look at what he did and reflect
on what it means for us.
Mark says here, Jesus sent his disciples out in pairs with 3 specific
tasks: 1.) to have authority over unclean spirits to drive out demons;
2.) to preach repentance of sins; and 3.) to anoint the sick and heal
them. He gives them the means of travel, a walking stick and sandals,
which are symbols of the discipleship journey, but he does not give them
the necessities of life--no food, clothes, money or money bag. They are
pilgrims, sojourners, missionaries, wayfarers, like him, sent on the journey.
From now on, they are totally dependent on the hospitality of strangers,
in order to learn holy dependence on God.
Then he says, “Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you
leave.” During our confirmation class this past year, we were reading
the Gospel of Mark, and when we got to this line, all my students laughed
and thought this was the dumbest line in the Gospel. “When you enter
a house, stay there until you leave it.” Why does Mark write that?
Remember, Jesus was politically subversive. The Roman soldiers and death
squads are roaming around and he sends the apostles out like sheep among
wolves to speak out for repentance, to denounce the empire’s violence,
and to heal the people. So they’re in danger. Jesus was forming
an underground movement, so he gives them some concrete, practical advice. “If
someone welcomes you, stay with them until you leave. Don’t go around
anywhere else because it’s dangerous out there.” This is the
way the early Christian movement began, establishing safe houses where
the community could start organizing in each town and spread out everywhere,
announcing God’s reign of justice and peace.
What’s amazing is that the disciples actually did these things.
They preached repentance, drove out the demons of violence, and healed
So what does that mean for us? At some point, sooner or later, Jesus
sends each one of us out on this same holy mission. Each one of us has
been sent forth into the world as an apostle of Jesus, to expel the demons
of violence and death; to help one another repent of social sin; and to
heal one another.
So this week I invite you to reflect on these question: When did Jesus
send you out as an apostle? What mission is Jesus giving you? What does
it mean for you to be an apostle of Jesus? How are you fulfilling your
mission as his apostle?
It is a great blessing to be sent out as an apostle of Jesus. As we reflect
on our apostolic mission, we can pray: “Lord Jesus, send us out
as your apostles into the world. Send us out to expel the demons of violence,
war and death. Send us out to help each other repent of the sin of injustice.
Send us out to heal one another, comfort one another, serve one another,
help one another and love one another. Send us out as missionaries of
love and peace to our families, our colleagues at work, toward everyone
we meet, toward everyone on earth. Send us out as your apostles that we
might proclaim God’s reign of love, nonviolence and peace here in
our midst. Amen.”
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