The mission of the twelve

– Wednesday of the 25th Week in Ordinary Time –

Then Jesus called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases,  They departed and went through the villages, bringing the good news and curing diseases everywhere.  [Luke 9:1-2, 6]

In today’s gospel reading, Jesus calls the twelve disciples together and sends them out on mission. This was really a practice run for the disciples who would carry on Christ’s mission after his death, resurrection and ascension.

Amongst the instructions that Jesus gives them for the assignment is: “Take nothing for your journey; no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money – not even an extra tunic.” As someone who never leaves the house without my purse and mobile, I find this very demanding and wonder about the reason for it. It seems that the disciples were to be totally dependent on the hospitality of others and to rely solely on God’s providence. What they were equipped with was something much greater than material possessions – authority over the unclean spirits and the ability to cure diseases.

Another instruction the disciples are given is: “Wherever they do not welcome you, as you are leaving that town shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.”  We sometimes still use the expression ‘to shake the dust off one’s feet’ to indicate that someone has done everything possible in a particular situation and is walking away from it. If the disciples shook the dust of a Jewish town from their feet, it would show their separation from those who rejected the Messiah “as a testimony against them”.

Jesus gave the disciples a specific task – to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal – and provided them with everything they needed for that task – power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases. It is comforting to know that Christ similarly equips us for the task that he calls us to, however challenging it may seem and inadequate we feel.

by Elizabeth Harrington

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