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Sunday Scripture: The supplies to equip us spiritually

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Thursday, July 9, 2009

By Father Timothy P. Schehr

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Amos 7:12-15; Psalm 85:9-14; Ephesians 1:3-14; Mark 6:7-13

During these weeks of summer we may be planning a family trip. An important part of any trip is deciding just what supplies to take along. In the Gospel for this Sunday Jesus sends the twelve apostles out on their first missionary journey. But Jesus will have some surprising things to say about supplies.

Jesus himself has been going about among the villages preaching the word of God (Mark 6:6). But now He wants to share the privilege of preaching the Gospel with His apostles. So the mission of the Twelve begins. What is surprising is the number of restrictions Jesus places on the apostles. He does not permit them to take much at all. They can take a walking stick and the pair of sandals on their feet. These items will certainly help them make the journey itself. And it looks like they are expected to walk and not ride. But other items that also might come in very handy for a trip Jesus does not allow. No food, no sack of miscellaneous supplies, no money and no second tunic. This is definitely travelling light!

It seems Jesus wants nothing to distract from the message. The Twelve will be preaching about the kingdom of heaven. If they carry such items as money and food, it may suggest that they rely on their own resources, and that would take away from the message that people need to put God first in their lives.  Furthermore carrying food and money may invite some in their audience to request such earthly goods from them instead of listening to the word they preach. The attraction of earthly resources nearly always gets in the way when it comes to walking with God.

The apostles are not to move from one house to another. Because they stay in just one place, people will be able to find them to benefit from the message they carry. There will also be no rivalry among villagers for demonstrations of hospitality which would distract from the message.

Jesus instructs the Twelve to shake from their feet the dust of any village that does not welcome them. This action does not necessarily mean rejection of a village. Its purpose may be to remind the people of their mortality and the advantages they miss out on if they do not embrace the good news proclaimed by the apostles.

The prophet Amos would probably have given an understanding nod; he had heard Jesus instructing His apostles so. Amos preached the word of God almost eight hundred years before the time of Jesus, but Amos knew all about putting complete trust in God as Jesus taught. In the first reading we hear him explaining to a not-so-sympathetic listener that he did not come to Bethel to earn a living. He was gainfully employed in his native land. He came north to Bethel only to give the people of Israel a chance to hear the truth.

If we are looking for some supplies to take along in life’s journey, let’s look at the list provided by Paul in the second reading. As Paul writes to the church in Ephesus he tells them of all the spiritual blessings they have received from God. They include being chosen in Christ before the creation of the world and being destined for adoption as children of God. They also have redemption in the blood of Christ, forgiveness of sins, wisdom, insight, and the Holy Spirit. These are supplies that will equip us spiritually.

Father Schehr is a member of the faculty at the Athenaeum of Ohio.

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