What an experience for the young apostles when Jesus sent them out to preach for the first time. His instructions were simple: take nothing but a walking stick, no extra clothing, and stay only where you are welcome. They were more prepared for their journeys than they could have imagined because, according to Mark, they made quite an impact by preaching repentance, driving out demons and anointing and curing the sick. Truth is that they had the best teacher since they had been following Jesus for some time before this moment and had witnessed how he ministered to those he encountered.
We, too, have our moment of being sent out each time we participate in the liturgy of the Mass. Possibly our reaction after the final blessing is that Mass is over, and I can be on my way. Actually the final blessing is the end of the beginning! We are not sent out to go home. We are sent out to witness the Gospel through our lives.
Putting ourselves in place of the apostles, what does Jesus ask us to bring on our journey, and what does He want us to leave behind?
We are asked to simply bring a heart open to loving God and all His creation, and to live our lives as witnesses to the Gospel message.
We are asked to leave behind our closed-mindedness, our preconceptions and judgment of others, our personal pride, and our dependency on our possessions and belongings.
If we approach our journey in this manner, we will be worthy missionaries like the apostles.
Mike Owens is coordinator of the Passionist Alumni Association and a member of the Migration Commission of Holy Cross Province. He lives in Louisville, Kentucky.