Feast of Saint Luke
2 Timothy 4:10-17b
An adventurous young woman Karen Davidson, once reflected after she had spent twelve months living with the nomadic tribesmen of northern Pakistan, that perhaps they were the last remaining true nomads of the world, people who travelled and camped wherever necessity led them, but at the same time were at home wherever they journeyed; whilst in our world today there are so many people who live nomadic lives but are ‘at home’ nowhere.
Certainly our age is one of travels and journeys. We make such preparations and take so many precautions, as does the state and various agencies, so that our journey will be safe and to an extent predictable. In nearly every case we know our destination, our expected arrival time and the arrangements that await us at our destination. So while we might wander far and wide, we do have a home to come back to and so perhaps we can claim that whilst nomadic in part, we are also rooted in a home base.
The journey Jesus sends the disciples on in today’s gospel seems to combine many of these same themes. The disciples are sent out into unknown places, but their base and their ‘home’ will be Jesus. They travel in his name and proclaim his message and he himself will follow to build on their work.
Certainly the instructions and details prepare the disciple for a more radical and open ended mission. However one must not be too distracted by the mere details – the lack of money, or absence of a carry sack or even spare sandals, and the instruction not to waste the day away spending exorbitant amounts to time talking to fellow travellers met along the roadway. No these details seem to be there more to indicate the urgency of the mission and absolute need of the disciples to be completely focused on assisting the kingdom of God in its growth in our world.
But also of great importance is the fact that the kingdom seems to grow in and through relationships, hospitality and stability of commitment. Thus the disciple is encouraged to foster peace and to allow this gift to colour any relationships thus formed. Further, the disciple is not to wander from place to place, or more so from person to person if there is a better offer made. Jesus encourages a certain stability and commitment to the person and the task at hand. The kingdom grows in such environments.
We are all labourers in the harvest of the Lord; we are all called to proclaim and witness to the kingdom. And as Jesus also highlights, at the heart of our missionary presence to others is a message of healing. We are to heal the sick. Of course that can take many forms and thus we are invited to heal by kindles and presence, by our recognition of the dignity of the other, by our words of encouragement or support and perhaps most powerfully of all, by our capacity to forgive and to let go of hurts.
Yes there are dangers; many around us behave like wolves exploiting people and relationships for their own gain. By contrast we are to stand up for alternative values founded on the vision of Jesus. Yes at times we’ll feel somewhat powerless in the face of such force, but while Jesus uses the image of ‘sheep’ he does in fact ask for strength of spirit and loving generosity in his followers. These are the gifts we are to carry – rather than being burdened down by securities, possessions or concerns for wealth and personal comfort.
Today we can hear Jesus calling to us anew; the kingdom is still growing, it is a vital ingredient and force in our world and its growth is fundamental. We are its labourers in this day and age. Let us be about our mission.
Fr. Denis Travers, C.P., is a member of Holy Spirit Province, Australia. He currently serves on the General Council and is stationed in Rome.