15th Sunday in Ordinary Time (July 15, 2018)
Jesus sent the Apostles out two by two to preach of repentance, anoint the sick and drive out demons. But did you notice the stipulations he attached to it?
Take nothing for the journey. No food. No money. No sack. No second tunic. Just a walking stick, sandals and the clothes on their backs.
Now we have to ask, WHY? Why the stipulations? The Apostles were sent on a journey. A specific mission. Jesus didn’t want Peter and James messing around on Facebook or to have John video chatting with his buddies back home. He wanted them instead to focus on the task at hand and, more importantly, to rely on others for help.
Now, I’m not sure if you are aware of this, but preaching on repentance isn’t exactly easy. It tends to get people on the defensive when you ask someone to walk away from sin and addiction. Even if it’s for the ultimate greater good… we tend to cling to those negative things in life because they give us false joy and temporary pleasure.
The Apostles, without anything fancy and totally relying on the generosity of others, went out to spread the Gospel. Did they meet with resistance? Yup. But Jesus told them what to do if that happened. Did you catch that in the Scripture passage? Jesus said… if they don’t listen to you or welcome you… you’re supposed to raise your voice, curse, punch, kick and insult them for not seeing things your way!!! Nooooooo!! What he really said was, “leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them.”
Jesus told the Apostles to do their best to teach others how to change their attitudes and to turn their lives around, but they needed to simply walk away if the person’s heart was too hard to hear the message. Just walk away. Such a simple concept.
And here’s the truly interesting part. These instructions that Jesus gave his Apostles… don’t take stuff, preach repentance, anoint the sick, drive out demons, walk away if people won’t listen… it worked. Why? Because people were open to changing their attitudes and willing to walk away from sin.
So here’s the take home message from today’s Gospel. If you are struggling with a sin or addiction, if you are angry, if you find yourself walking away from God instead of towards Him, if you are lacking joy in your life… get rid of some of the clutter and allows others to help you. Then focus on what needs to be changed, repent of it and get back on track. If you can consistently do this, you will have fewer negative things around you… I promise.
So grab your walking stick, repent of your sins, set your sights on God and enjoy the journey towards our Father in heaven who is the only source of true and everlasting joy.