Genesis 44:18-21, 23b-29; 45:1-5
As Jesus sent out the 12 — this imperfect and frail bunch — to proclaim the good news, he gave them incredible gifts:
"Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, drive out demons." But perhaps the most powerful gift he gave them is one that easily overlooked. It is the audacious gift of greeting — "As you enter a house, wish it peace."
What is so powerful, so audacious about the greeting "Peace be with you"? It is the peace of God that makes possible the curing of the sick, the raising of dead and all the other gifts. These were Jesus’ first words after his resurrection. It is the gift that allows us to be reconciled with God and reveals God’s extravagent love for us. It is called the good news. Proclaim this good news and then watch out. Miracles will happen.
Jesus’ added another missionary directive to the 12. Don’t bother taking gold or silver. Take no bag, no extra clothes, or anything else. He spoke words that would have been familiar to devout Jews of the day. They would know what the Talmud says: "No one is to go the Temple Mount with staff, shoes, money purse or dusty feet." The idea was that when a person entered the Temple, they must demonstrate that they have left behind everything that had to do with business and worldy affairs. What Jesus was saying to the 12 is that they are to regard the whole world as the Temple of God. He shattered the artificial divide between sacred and secular.
Little has changed in 2,000 years. What was true for the 12 is still true for us today. We — the imperfect and frail Body of Christ — gather at the Eucharist, where we bless one another with the sign of peace. We receive the broken and fragile bread, the Body of Christ to nourish us and remind us that all we have to give God is our weakness and that in our weakness we find God’s power. Only then, are we given our missionary directive and dismissed: "Go forth and proclaim the Good News to everyone." We’re told: Go! Don’t stay inthe church. The whole world and all God’s people are his Temple. Go out and bless one another with the holy and audacious greeting: "Peace be with you." Proclaim this good news. And then watch out. Miracles will happen.
Deacon Manuel Valencia is on the staff at Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California.