FEB. 4 ORDINARY TIME. (B) WK. 4. THU. MK. 6. 7-13
Jesus made a tour round the villages, teaching. Then he summoned the Twelve and began to send them out in pairs giving them authority over the unclean spirits. And he instructed them to take nothing for the journey except a staff – no bread, no haversack, no coppers for their purses. They were to wear sandals but, he added, ‘Do not take a spare tunic.’ And he said to them, ‘If you enter a house anywhere, stay there until you leave the district. And if any place does not welcome you and people refuse to listen to you, as you walk away shake off the dust from under your feet as a sign to them.’ So they set off to preach repentance; and they cast out many devils, and anointed many sick people with oil and cured them.
Teaching was a major purpose for Christ becoming a man, but in today’s reading he begins the process of establishing his Church, so the teaching role could continue after his Ascension!
Our need for teaching is not an aspect of life that we give much attention to but when we ponder our sinful inclinations, and our tendency to “love” ourselves and do our own Will, we realise how important it is that we have clear “teachings” to guide us.
This need is highlighted in the Creed where everything we profess after “I believe” has its origins in the teachings of Christ and his Church. It is what our Faith is built on!
And note how in today’s reading, when “sending out” the Apostles to teach, Christ also gave them “authority over unclean spirits” , a role which, until that time, had been reserved for himself.
At this early stage of the Church’s foundation the “authority over unclean spirits” included the ability to perform miracles, which was necessary as a means of bearing witness to the truth of what Christ and the Apostles were preaching.
Even today the “evidence” or “proof” for what we believe is still to be found in these miracles, with the primary proof being found in Christ’s Resurrection from the dead; - so the miracles and authority over unclean spirits; - or Satan’s demons; - played an important role in the establishment of the early Church.
We still see today this power over unclean spirits, although it is now mainly through the Sacraments. This is appropriate as it means the evil spirits that dwell in us; - and encourage us to commit sin; - continue to be overcome “through Christ” and the Priesthood of those he “sent out”; - with a wonderful example being the Sacrament of Confession!
The Christian religion cannot exist without this Faith in Christ, and this applies not only to the “faith full” but also to the Apostles and those who were “sent out”. We all have to “believe in Christ”.
This is borne out in today’s reading where Christ tells his Apostles: “take nothing for the journey except a staff – no bread, no haversack, no coppers for their purses. You are to wear sandals but ‘Do not take a spare tunic.’
At the heart of this direction; - or teaching; - is an invitation for his Apostles and followers, to place their Trust, or Faith, in the power and Love of God; - rather than in their own efforts or abilities; - a teaching that is at the very heart of the Christian Faith! “Jesus, I trust in you!”