15th Sunday in Ordinary Time
He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics. He said to them, "Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them." So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.
Introductory Prayer: In this time of prayer I want to listen to you with all the faith I can muster, using the gift you gave me with Baptism, trusting in you and learning from you. I know that Baptism and Confirmation have made me your disciple and your herald. I want to listen to what you expect of me, and get to know you more as I hear your words.
Petition: Lord, you have chosen to need apostles to bring your message to others. Make my life worthy of you, and give me the strength and love I need to do your work.
1. "He Called the Twelve." Jesus needs us—he chose to need us. He needs his chosen band of faithful apostles to continue the mission of redemption. Jesus Christ has chosen to multiply himself through us, to reach thousands of souls through us his emissaries. Christ did not have to do this. He could have decided to fulfill every aspect of salvation on his own, for indeed saving souls is the most pressing desire in his heart. Yet Jesus' love for us is so great, he chose to save man by man. He has entrusted to us the fulfillment of what he desires so greatly. The mission of Christ lies in our hands, and Christ is waiting for our response.
In the verses previous to this passage, the Gospel tells us how Jesus himself had been traveling through the towns, preaching and healing. In others words, before sending his disciples, he gave them example of what he was going to ask of them. Jesus is always like that. He never asks anything of us that he has not given example of himself. He never throws us into things he has not been preparing us for, leaving us at the mercy of circumstances.
From the beginning of his ministry, he called to him those whom he desired; ...And he appointed twelve, whom also he named apostles, to be with him, and to be sent out to preach. From then on, they would also be his emissaries (Greek apostoloi). In them, Christ continues his own mission: As the Father has sent me, even so I send you." The apostles' ministry is the continuation of his mission; Jesus said to the Twelve, He who receives you receives me (Catechism of the Catholic Church #858).
2. He Gave Them Authority. Jesus does not leave us fending for ourselves. He provides us with the means we need. We can always be sure of Christ's constant presence and grace. Alone, we can do nothing, but with Christ we can do anything. Jesus bestows upon us his power and authority to carry out his mission of redemption. We act not of ourselves, but in the name of Jesus Christ. Why should we be afraid of the mission that he gives us, why shy away from what he is asking of us? If Christ is with us, who can be against us? The power of God sustains us and in his name we can do his work. All we have to do is trust, which means: set about doing his work. Christ says of the demands of the Gospel that for men they are impossible but for God all is possible.
It is from God's love for all men that the Church in every age receives both the obligation and the vigor of her missionary dynamism, for the love of Christ urges us on. But the Church, to whom this truth has been entrusted, must go out to meet their desire, so as to bring them the truth. Because she believes in God's universal plan of salvation, the Church must be missionary (Catechism of the Catholic Church #851).
3. Take Nothing. Normally, when we set out on a trip we pack our bags. The very least we take care of is having some food and money for eventualities. Jesus tells them not to be anxious for what you will eat, your Heavenly Father knows what you need. Like ourselves, the apostles may have been somewhat anxious. But they already had the experience of traveling with Jesus, who apparently had the habit of giving to the poor the gifts of money people gave him. Pragmatism and practicality cringe at the very thought of such rashness. Yet if Christ orders it, can trusting Providence be rash?
Jesus asks for childlike abandonment to the providence of our heavenly Father who takes care of his children's smallest needs: Therefore do not be anxious, saying, "What shall we eat?" or "What shall we drink? Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well (Catechism of the Catholic Church #305).
Conversation: I accept your invitation, Lord Jesus, to examine and renew my trust in you. I realize I place too much emphasis on material things for my security, and so I am inhibited in my ability to be your apostle: before setting out, I want to be sure everything is going to work perfectly and there are going to be no problems. Help me break out of this closed world I live in. Give me greater confidence in your presence and in the power of your grace to transform me and transform others.
1. How convinced am I that Christ has chosen to need me to do his work that the salvation of my neighbor is actually in my hands?
2. Why am I still delaying to start bringing Christ’s truth to my peers?
3. How trusting am I in God’s providence, that if I am generous with him he will work in and through me?