Fifteenth Sunday, July 15th, 2012. Scripture and Gospel Reflection
He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics. He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.
(Mark 6:7–13 NRSV)
I have been much influenced by a picture in our church of St Ignatius of Loyola and St Francis Xavier walking in the courtyard of the university of Paris. It’s an old painting of a particular style, but it has always indicated to me that people following Christ never do so alone. Jesus sent them in pairs, and the picture is highlighting that we cannot find and follow Jesus Christ on our own.
This does not mean that our faith and following is not personal; it is deeply personal but not to be individualistic. The light of faith is handed and passed on from one to another.
The future health and hope of the church finds a deep source in the friendship of faith and in collaboration in ministry and service. The parish of the future will find its life only in the working-together of all sorts of people – male and female, cleric and lay, old and young, believing and half-believing. Our faith in God and our living of this faith depends much on the community of faith of which we are a part. Faith in our families needs the faith of the larger christian family for its nourishment and growth. Jesus had wisdom in sending them out in pairs.
Unity in Separation
At times the people I refer to, Ignatius and Francis, were separated by continents. Their long relationship of faith still strengthened them with numerous letters written and the prayerful thanks for each other’s faith and love.
Truer than ever we believe now that no one is an island. Brendan Kennelly the Kerry poet puts it well, ‘Self knows that self is not enough’.
We are called in love, sent in love on the mission of God, and in this we find the new life of Jesus Christ.
Donal Neary SJ