Aug21TueAugust 21, 2018 Pastor Carey
Two parts in today’s Gospel cause me to pause and reflect when I read this text about Jesus commissioning the twelve to go out into the world like missionaries to share God’s good news of healing and wholeness.
The first point is, the twelve are not sent out alone to bare seeds of the kingdom. Jesus sends out the twelve in pairs. For safety. To work as a team. For collaboration, companionship and complement.
When I read this text. I am reminded of a lovely octogenarian couple at my first parish in Maynooth. Their story was one of partnership. The man re-told the story often of how because of a stroke he lost most functioning - mobility and even speech. He had to relearn these like a child and did. The couple use to tell of how they held each other up. One had better eye sight - so they were the vision. The other was steadier on their feet - they offered stability and did the fetching. Same goes for hearing. Their story was one of partnership. They functioned better together and attributed their livelihood to one another. Together they were more. Reminded me a lot of how we are meant to function as the body of Christ.
This is what the Gospel text implies. Together the disciples were more.
The second point is, that the twelve sent out in pairs are told to go with little else but each other for the journey. As I reflect on todays Gospel and get to the part about the instructions for what the twelve should take along for the journey I pause.
The twelve are sent out with a meager set of tools. A staff and sandals; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts, only one tunic. The twelve were likely dirty, hungry and reliant upon what their neighbour would provide in their time of need. They are told not to force anyone to accept them in their home but if they do - accept their hospitality.
Now I don’t know about you, but I never travel with as little as describe. It’s not to often that we go on a journey without our credit cards, some cash in hand, a snack and drink, and a suitcase full of too many clothes. Likely, it’s fair to say, that this is because myself along with most of us come from a place of privilege.
Why is Jesus telling the seventy to pack nothing for the journey? To travel light? Maybe it has something to do with relying on and receiving the hospitality others have to give.
The twelve were told to rely upon the hospitality of others.
It’s rare if ever that we rely on this level of hospitality from another. We rely on the hospitality of known family or friends, or the hospitality we pay for. But this is different from the hospitality offered and received in this narrative of the sending of the twelve.
The twelve go in pairs to people and places they may or may not know, to discover what type of reception they will receive or will not receive. And their assignment is: To bring wholeness where brokenness reigns.
As I reflect on this faith narrative in light of the Warming Centre and the Out of the Cold or Heat programs, I am challenged with a bit of a reversal. Often I think it’s the case that the church sees itself as the twelve sent out by Jesus to share the good news. And yes, this has been and is often the case. I think it can be more challenging for us to reflect on ourselves as the houses that offer hospitality or not. If the twelve or the seventy as we later hear are the ones that go out with virtually nothing in their possession, to rely on the hospitality of others…. I am challenged. The people who rely on our hospitality are the guests who have visited us through these programs that attempt to help remedy the enormous burden that poverty, mental illness, isolation, being marginalized place on them.
And maybe, just maybe these guests are like the twelve sent out - they help us catch a glimpse of what healing and wholeness in community might look like. Is it possible that they are also bearing the message of the kingdom? The ones who come to our doors for food, companionship instead of judgement and so much more…. offer us something in return… a relationship becomes one with more mutuality.
In this event of offering hospitality, a God moment is likely happening. And without hesitation, I would say that lives are being transformed, for both those receiving and offering hospitality. And in these acts/events of offering and receiving hospitably the kingdom comes near.
Mother Theresa once said something like this, Let us not pray that God might eliminate poverty, hunger, and homelessness in the world but let us pray that God might show us how we might play a role in eliminating these barriers, even if oh so small.
I am grateful that this partnership with the House of Friendship formed this winter and that our building here at St. Matthews was a place where some of the most vulnerable in our community might have experienced a place of welcome and hospitality. Thanks be to God. Amen