15th Sunday (B)

Antonio P. Pueyo
Reproduced with Permission

is carrying things that we have accumulated in our previous assignments. These may be books, trophies, wall decorations, clothes, golf clubs, or picture albums. We priests have our peculiar interests. One priest brings around nuts, bolts, wires and unfinished electronic projects. Another lugs around his collection of musical instruments and amplifiers. Still another cannot part with his bicycles and athletic equipment. A really dedicated bodybuilder brings his barbells, and other heavy weight training paraphernalia. As one veteran priest observed, in his younger years he could fit all his things inside a Volkswagen Beetle and transfer with a few minutes’ notice, now after 25 years, he needs a container van.

Action starter: What clutters up your life? Simplify.

How far away we are from following the admonition of the Lord Jesus to His disciples, “He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick – no food, no sack, no money in their belts (Mk. 6, 8).” Behind this radical advice is a sense of urgency and focus in fulfilling the mission to proclaim the coming of a new reality in and through Jesus. This new reality consists of a new people, a community of friends who imbibed the mentality, concerns, and vision of Jesus. This reality is also called the Kingdom of God.

In the light of this new reality, everything else takes second place, including our most important relationships, “Leave father , mother, wife behind.” Even seemingly serious social obligations are deemed less important, “Let the dead bury the dead.” Seemingly prudent precautions such as bringing a set of extra clothes, some food, and money for emergencies are considered obstacles that may weigh the missionary down.

Two thousand years away from the time of the first apostles, we may think twice about the soundness of these radical injunctions. We may even say that these were hyperbolic remarks. The Lord was exaggerating things to drive home a point. Be that as it may, apostles and missionaries throughout the ages have tried to live by these admonitions. It helps the missionary to travel lightly, to simplify his lifestyle, and check his priorities in the light of the mission to bring to people a touch of the Divine. This Divine touch may be a new way of looking at things, such as our being destined for eternal life. It may be an experience of being cared for and being treated with human dignity. It may be an experience of community. It may be an experience of healing or of overcoming ignorance.

Whatever expressions of the Kingdom of God are undertaken by the modern apostle, whether priests, religious, or lay people, it would be wise to follow the Lord’s advice to simplify one’s life and to dispose of unnecessary baggage. Given our consumer-oriented culture, this is a serious decision to make. One’s energies are then focused on the really important matters of the mission.