Gospel Reflections

15th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Mark 6:7-13

Sunday Gospel Reflection by Sister Marion Cotty

Published: July 12, 2015

The Mission of the Twelve

“He summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits.”

Mission—a word that evokes a fourfold reality—a call, response, sending and reception. Derived from the Latin verb mittere which means ‘to send,’ it implies action. Who is it who calls? It is the Lord, asking his chosen to preach in his name and to overcome demons. Jesus is moving on, rejected by the people of his hometown of Nazareth who had so little faith. He has a brief time left on earth before his return to the Father. With the twelve, who have responded to his call with commitment, he traverses Galilee, in preparing those he would leave behind for leadership. Galilee, the north of Palestine, becomes holy ground, training ground. Jesus sends out, his disciples, two by two, with the equality and joy of trustworthy friendship, and gives them authority over unclean spirits. The Greek word for authority in this case signifies a sharing in divine power. Jesus does not leave his apostles alone to stand up to evil. Who will listen and receive?

“He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick—no food, no sack, no money in their belts. They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic.”

The message for the twelve and call of all God’s emissaries is to travel lightly; baggage weighs down, can interfere with moving forward on the Way. Detachment from things, deep trust in the One who calls and reliance on providence are needed for mission. The Lord’s instructions also include appreciation of hospitality offered, a staying power, no search for Jerusalem Hiltons! If their message is not received, they are to move on, shake the dust off their feet, no rumination about others’ receptivity! The gifts and power of God must be proclaimed.

“So they went off and preached repentance.”

Repentance--a lovely word! In gospel usage, it means ‘a change of heart,’ ‘a turning away from one’s sin.’  It indicates a receiving of the word. Mark reveals that the twelve drove out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them. A reception completed the mission of the twelve.

A note on two by two: Today, July 12, marks the birthday of St. Julie Billiart in 1751. Miraculously cured of 22 yrs. of paralysis, she and Frances Blin de Bourdon, one poor, one rich, began the Sisters of Notre Dame of Namur in 1804. By the time of Julie’s death, April 8, 1816, the pair had established 15 schools to educate the poor and lift up the faith in Napoleonic times. How good is the good God who calls! Like the early disciples, Julie’s mission was to go throughout the world. Today her Sisters labor for the Lord on five continents.



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