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  • Father Simon Peter's    Weekly Message!

    My Dear People of God,

    Today we celebrate the Fifteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time. In the gospel reading, we have the account of the first commissioning of the Twelve. After Jesus had been with them for a while, He decides to send the Twelve out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits. However, Jesus instructs them to “take nothing for the journey but a walking stick, no food, no sack, no money in their belts….” Why did He do that?
    Allow me shed some light on that question by first relating a story of a knight who set out on a long journey. He tried to foresee all the possible problems and dangers he was likely to encounter, and to take precautions against each one of them. And so he took a sword and a suit armor in case he met an enemy. He took a jar of ointment to guard against sunburn. He took an axe to chop wood for a fire at night. He took a tent and several blankets. He took pots and pans for cooking and list goes on and on. He also took supplies for his horse and as you can imagine, by the time he set off, he was heavily laden. Soon after taking off, he came to an old rickety bridge which straddled a deep gorge. He was only a half way across when the bridge collapsed into the gorge because of the weight. The knight lost his life in the collapse and that was the end of the journey! The moral of the story is that if we wish to travel speedily and safely, even taking normal precautions, then we should travel light. But to travel light requires a lot of faith.
    Jesus in sending out the Twelve, gave them authority (power) over unclean spirits and invites them to place complete trust in God. To that end, they were to travel light, taking with them only the essentials and trusting that God would take care of the rest. They are allowed to take sandals and a stick with them, presumably to ward off wild animals and to protect themselves from snakes. However, they were not to take other provisions along, such as extra clothing, or food or even money. They must accept the hospitality that is offered to them.  In this commissioning, Jesus is certainly preparing them for the final and great commission when they will be on their own.
    With these instructions, the Twelve set out on their mission. The ministry they were to perform was a combination of words and deeds; preaching repentance, driving out demons, healing the sick. It is evident from the gospel that, the Twelve obeyed the instructions given to them by Jesus and their mission was successful. They drove out many demons, and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them. More importantly they gained practical experience for the final commission that saw them bring the message of the Kingdom to all parts of the world. They did this in the power of the Lord and carried very little with them.
    This can be seen for example in the ministry of St Thomas the Apostle whose feast is celebrated this month (July 3). St Thomas took the Gospel, the good news of God’s love and saving presence to India where he was laid down his life. In 2010, I had the privilege of visiting the Basilica dedicated to his honor in city of Chenai, India and to hear accounts of his ministry and eventual martyrdom there. If he had not obeyed Jesus and rather acted like the knight, he most probably would not have made it to India.
    Jesus began to send them two by two… Notice how the Evangelist words it: He/Jesus ‘began to send them out..” implying that He will continue to do so and He does it even today. What is He sending you and me to do? The Twelve didn’t need a lot of stuff because they needed to learn to depend on God for food and for a place to sleep. We don’t have to go to extremes, but the truth is that most us could get by with fewer things.
    God bless. 

    Fr Simon Peter