Together in Mission

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for the home Depositphotos_11770563_m-2015.jpg
July 15th, 2018 – 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Mark 6:7-13

Here are your orders for your first apostolic “sales” trip. Take one walking stick, no extra clothes, no food (you’ll be able to eat when you arrive at a welcoming destination) and travel with one other person. Two-by-two –- like Noah’s Ark.

Thus began the first venture at evangelization by the disciples of Jesus. They were also told to keep their message simple. If anyone does not want to listen to their “pitch,” they are to simply bid them adieu and move on to the next household. Mark’s gospel is disappointedly brief in this description. We’d like to know more.

 

I have always wondered about that two-by-two arrangement. We tend to think of Christian missionaries (which is what they were in this account) as soloists. Accounts of the apostles seem focused on the accomplishments of individuals. For instance, Peter did this and Paul did that.

But a careful reading (and research on the early church) seems to indicate that they were not always alone. They worked in a communal way. That’s because the Christian life is deeply communal. Recall that Jesus taught that the first commandment (love God) and the second commandment (love neighbour) were actually the same commandment.

So, it should not be surprising that Jesus told his first missionaries to do their ministry together. As a community or as a team.

Further, as Christians we believe there exists a communal aspect to God. God is one and three – at the same time! God’s very existence is communal. St. John the Evangelist will conclude his teachings by saying simply that God is love. And he’s not describing self-love but love of another.

One final thought. The communication of the faith is to be straightforward and simple. If the communication given is not welcomed or well received, Jesus tells his missionaries (a favorite idea of Pope Francis) to move on. People are either ready to receive their message or they are not. There is no forcing of the Gospel. And certainly, it is not to be communicated as threatening. That’s the way it was to be communicated back then and it should be so today.

©David M. Thomas, PhD