In today's gospel, Luke recounts when Jesus sends a group of disciples
out into the world to spread His message. On this most recent reflection,
I find the interesting part of the account not so much the sending,
but the ground rules Jesus gives the disciples for how they are
to proceed on their journey. He told them to go unburdened by material
items, to be like lambs, to trust in the good will of the people
they encountered, to rely on their hosts for food and drink, and
to eat what is placed before them.
We might find these ideals troublesome today. How often have any
of us taken a journey into unknown territory and not prepared in
some way for the unexpected? We take maps (or GPS locators), and
food, and pack our vehicles or bags with extra clothing, and tools
and implements with which we anticipate we can meet any emergency.
We cluck our tongues at those who are unprepared (many times as
we drive by them on the highway), who then are stranded or beset
by the unforeseen, who didn¹t have the common sense (that we
so smugly ascribe to ourselves) to properly prepare for their journey.
We extol the virtue of being prepared, the (boy) scout attitude
of anticipating every eventuality.
Yet Jesus calls His missioned 72 to go into the world intentionally
unprepared. Jesuits (and others) replicate this call many times
in their religious formation. Why? How? I can't think of leaving,
even for a short journey across Iowa to visit my aunt, without some
preparation. Is Jesus calling us to be foolish? To be naïve?
To be Pollyannas?
I don't think Jesus would look askance at my making sure there is
enough gas in my car before I start across Iowa, or to take along
money to pay for more gas and supplies as I travel. I think Jesus
is calling us to have a faith-filled attitude toward our preparations,
both as missioned disciples and throughout our life journeys. I
think Jesus calls us to be unburdened by material items, not to
ignore their usefulness but to keep in perspective that they are
not ends in themselves, but merely tools for us to use while we
are in our bodily state. I think Jesus calls us to have the attitudes
of lambs, to be humble and gentle and peaceful in our dealings with
others. I think Jesus calls us to be trustful in expecting others
to treat us with good will, not to be suspicious without grounds
or to expect that others will treat us unjustly. I think Jesus calls
us to be grateful for the gifts that others share with us, not to
question the quality but to look for the good in what we receive
and accept the generosity of those who give to us.
And so my prayer for today is that God increase my faith so my attitude
can reflect the ground rules Jesus gives us.