Amos 7, 12-15 + Psalm 85 + Ephesians 1, 3-14 + Mark 6, 7-13
It is on only the sixth chapter of Mark’s Gospel, and the disciples have not been with Jesus for very long, just long enough for them to see what he is doing, and long enough for us to know that they are not too sure of themselves and not too dependable. None the less, before they seem to be ready, he sends them out with power and authority. Given the conditions of the world we live in, those two things spell danger. I don’t know about you, but I am cautious around people with power and authority, and the scandals of the last few years give us all reason to on guard. I suspect that before Jesus invests any more of his energy and time in this group, he wants to see what they can do with power and authority. Judging from the report they bring back, they did rather well. There is no report or indication that they used their power for themselves and abused authority to get more power. On the contrary, they followed the example of their master and used the power they had to relive the suffering of others, and that in turn reinforced the authority of the master.
When Jesus sends them out with power and authority, they take nothing, and that is exactly how they return. In other words, having relied only on the master, they took nothing along and they took nothing from those they served. They did not move around always looking for a better deal, and they did not waste time with people who did not welcome them. There was a sense of urgency that kept them focused without wondering what was in it for them. This power and authority Jesus gave to these apostles was the power of love and the authority of humility. This kind of power never corrupts, and the authority of humility is always credible. Would that our society and culture had leaders with this kind of power and authority.
If you are nodding your head in agreement with me, you are in trouble right now, because I believe that this Gospel suggests that the world does have that kind of people with this kind of power and authority, and you are one of them. The trouble is, none of us feel ready, while we have spent way too long thinking that this about someone else. Too many people act as though this is all a matter of study and learning. Too many people are sitting in the bleachers or the pews and not enough are giving this power and authority a try. Love and Humility are powerful tools in the hands of real disciples of Jesus Christ.
It is important to notice that the major part of learning for these apostles was experience related. It cannot be any different for us. Academic studies are always idealistic and superficial to some extent. Until you do something you don’t really learn anything, you just know about it. Too many people in this world know about Jesus, but they’ve met him! The knowledge just stays in the head. Life puts us in all kinds of situations from which we learn great truths. However, if the truth were known, we would never have learned them at all; because if it were up to us, we would have avoided the learning experience. “It’s too hard.” “I’m not ready.” “I have to get a couple of others things done first.” There are as many excuses as there are people, but it does not change the fact that we are a people of faith called by God as disciples of Jesus to so something as much as be something.
In the end, I suppose the biggest excuse is fear, but fear of what? Being alone? We are not sent out alone. He sent them two by two. Fear of what? Making a mistake? That may also be why they are out in pairs, but what’s wrong with making a mistake with the intention of following God’s will? The only real mistake is doing nothing. Next Sunday we are going to hear about their return and see what shape they are in after exercising the power of love with humility. A remarkable thing happens to them, and it is something we all long for.
This week, today, the call goes out again from Jesus Christ for disciples to take to the streets with love and humility, confident that Jesus Christ will give you all you need to touch someone with kindness, to heal a broken heart, and to confront with courage any evil that you see or hear. Discipleship is not all about prayers, novenas, and holy hours. Those things come later as we see next week. They come after you’re worn out from the mission. Discipleship is also about learning, and the teaching style of Jesus is about action and doing things in his name. Remember. Pay attention. The last thing said at the end of this gathering in his name is: GO.