Lord our God,
help us to love You with all our hearts
and to love all people as You love them.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
One God, forever and ever. Amen.
2) Gospel reading - Mark 6:7-13
Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits. 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. He said to them, "Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave from there. Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them." So they went off and preached repentance. The Twelve drove out many demons, and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.
Today’s Gospel continues what we have already seen in the Gospel yesterday. The passage through Nazareth was painful for Jesus. He was rejected by His own people (Mk 6: 1-5). The community, which had been His community, is no longer such. Something has changed. Beginning at that moment, as today’s Gospel says, Jesus began to go around to the villages of Galilee to announce the Good News (Mk 6: 6) and to send the Twelve on a mission. In the 70’s, the time when Mark wrote his Gospel, the Christian communities lived in a difficult situation, without any horizon. Humanly speaking, there was no future for them. In the year 64, Nero began to persecute the Christians. In the year 65, the revolt or uprising of the Jews in Palestine against Rome broke out. In the year 70, Jerusalem was completely destroyed by the Romans. This is why the description of the sending out of the disciples, after the conflict in Nazareth, was a source of light and of courage for the Christians.
Mark 6:7. The objective of the Mission. The conflict grew and closely affected Jesus. How does He react? In two ways: 1) In the face of the mental stubbornness of the people of His community, Jesus leaves Nazareth and begins to go to the neighboring villages (Mk 6: 6). 2) He extends the mission and intensifies the announcement of the Good News, calling other people to involve them in the mission. He summons the Twelve, and begins to send them out in pairs, giving them authority over unclean spirits . The objective of the mission is simple and profound. The disciples participate in the mission of Jesus. They cannot go alone; they have to go in pairs, two by two, because two persons represent the community better than one alone and they can mutually help one another. They receive authority over unclean spirits, i.e., they are to be a help for others in suffering and, through purification, they are to open the door for direct access to God.
Mark 6: 8-11. The attitudes which they should have in the Mission. The recommendations are simple: He instructed them to take nothing for the journey except a staff: no bread, no bag, no money for their purses; they were to wear sandals and not to take a spare tunic. And He told 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 under your feet, as evidence to them.” So they set off. It is the beginning of a new stage. Now not only Jesus but the whole group will announce the Good News of God to the people. If the preaching of Jesus caused conflict, much more now, there will be conflict with the preaching of the whole group. If the mystery was already great, now it will be greater since the mission has been intensified.
Mark 6: 12-13. The result of the mission. So they set off to proclaim repentance, and they cast out many devils and anointed many sick people with oil and cured them. The proclamation of the Good News produces conversion or a change in people; it alleviates suffering in people; it cures illnesses and casts out devils.
The sending out of the disciples on Mission. At the time of Jesus there were several other movements of renewal, for example, the Essenes and the Pharisees. They also sought a new way of living in community and they had their own missionaries (cf. Mt 23:15). But these, when they went on mission, had prejudices. They took with them a bag and money to take care of their own meals, because they did not trust the food that people would give them, which was not always ritually pure. As opposed to other missionaries, the disciples of Jesus received various recommendations which helped them to understand the fundamental points of the mission which they received from Jesus and which is also our mission:
a) They should go without taking anything. They should take nothing, no bag, no money, no staff, no bread, no sandals, no spare tunic. That meant that Jesus obliged them to trust in hospitality, because one who goes without taking anything goes because he trusts people and thinks that he will be well received. With this attitude they criticized the laws of exclusion, taught by the official religion, and showed, by means of the new practice, that they in the community had other criteria.
b) They should eat what people ate or what the people gave them. They could not live separately, providing their own food, but they were to accept to sit at the same table (Lk 10: 8). This means that in contact with the people, they should not be afraid of losing purity as it was taught at that time. With this attitude they criticized the laws of purity which were in force and showed, by means of the new practice, that they had another type of access to purity, that is, intimacy with God.
c) They should remain in the first house that welcomed them. They should live together in a stable way and not go from house to house. They should work like everybody else and live off what they received in exchange, because the laborer deserves his wages (Lk 10: 7). In other words, they should participate in the life and in the work of the people, and the people would have accepted them in the community and would have shared the food with them. This means that they had to have trust in sharing.
d) They should take care of the sick, cure lepers and cast out devils (Lk 10: 9; Mk 6: 7-13; Mt 10: 8). They had to carry out the function of Defender (“go’el”) and accept within the community those who were excluded. With this attitude they criticized the situation of disintegration of the community life of the clan and they aimed at concrete ways of correcting this. These were the four fundamental points which had to give impetus to the attitude of the missionaries who announced the Good News in the name of Jesus: hospitality, communion, sharing and acceptance of the excluded (defender, “go'el”). If these four requirements were respected, they could and should cry out to the four ends of the earth: The Kingdom of God has come! (cf. Lk 10: 1-12; 9: 1-6; Mk 6: 7-13; Mt 10: 6-16). The Kingdom of God revealed by Jesus is not a doctrine, nor a catechism, nor a law. The Kingdom of God comes and becomes present when people, motivated by their faith in Jesus, decide to live in community to give witness and to manifest to all that God is Father and Mother and that, therefore, we human beings are brothers and sisters to one another. Jesus wanted the local community to be an expression of the Covenant, of the Kingdom, of the love of God the Father, who makes all of us brothers and sisters.
4) Personal questions:
Do you participate in the mission as a disciple of Jesus?
Which point of the mission of the apostles is more important for us today? Why?
5) Concluding prayer
Great is Yahweh and most worthy of praise in the city of our God,
the holy mountain,
towering in beauty,
the joy of the whole world. (Ps 48:1-2)