B Cycle – 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time 21
Mk. 6: 7-13
Each of us has experience those first-time jitters as we began something we have never done before. That moment When we were not quite certain about what is expected of us or if we could meet the requirements of the task. We wonder. Our first day on a new job; the first day of school; the first day living away from our parents or our first date. Imagine the disciple’s response as Jesus sends them out to proclaim the kingdom of God not just to speak of the kingdom but to heal the sick and cast out demons which is something they certainly have never done before. This sending forth was early in their discipleship with Jesus and it was long before the Holy Spirit descended upon them on Pentecost.
During their 3 years listening and watching Jesus, we know they were often confused, uncertain and certainly lacking inf faith. We know after his resurrection; they were not only confused but were uncertain about their future. But on this day, when they were at this point just beginning to understand who Jesus was and why he came they were told to go and do what he had been doing and they went and did it.
You can imagine the shock to their system when he told them to go. I can easily visualize my watching my dad drive a car and then one day say to me, you drive today. Watching someone do something is not enough to go and do it. Yet because they not yet anointed by the Spirit but still went and performed miracles, we can believe we too are ready to bring hope and healing to others. We can place out trust in God’s promise to us when he tells us to go and make disciples.
The fact these ill equipped disciples acted on the word of God should inspire us to trust God and step out in faith to share our belief in Jesus Christ. I am not talking about defending our dogma, or the theology behind why we Catholics do what we do. NO, I am talking about proclaiming the gospel message of God’s love for us, the forgiveness of sins by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.
This gospel story is telling us that believing in and trusting in God is all the preparation we need to go out and tell others about what God offers us? Jesus’s approach to healing was sickness was the work of the demonic and needed to be confronted each and every time. Do you really think the disciples felt prepared to confront demons? Yet they were willing to respond because they believed in him. Their first encounter with Christ was life changing enough for them to totally change their lives from dependence on themselves to dependance on Jesus for all they sought from life. This willingness to go do something they are ill prepared to accomplish is the next step we all must take to experience the fullness of what it means to believe in Jesus Christ.
There is no doubt they lacked faith and they continued to lack faith even after they healed the sick and cast out demons. But on this day, he tells them to go out and do the same things he did. This was their freshman year in discipleship school, and they were sent out to do graduate work; and they do not even question him or complain or hesitate. They went and proclaimed the kingdom of God and cast out demons and healed the sick. This was before they had experienced the resurrected Jesus or been filled with the Spirit on Pentecost.
They were had to be concerned as they left him and began that trip to the towns and villages. Jesus even told them they would be rejected by many they went to serve. Yet, they went, and they did tap into the power of God. What is amazing it how quickly they failed to trust Jesus after they returned. The next story of Jesus told by Mark is his challenging them to feed the thousands with a few fish and a few loaves of bread. What made the difference between the willingness to go and heal and their doubting the power of God could feed thousands with a few fish and so little bread. Perhaps it was in grasping the concept of “his giving them authority” vs him just telling them to do something. Perhaps it is a knowing they had access to the power of God vs looking inward and seeing their own inadequacies. Perhaps they began to understand that by responding to God demands more than just doing it demands a change in us.
We can have moments of great faith and then fall back into looking at all our short comings and what we do not have and forget Jesus promised us we would be equipped with all we need to be his witnesses. If we keep reading the gospel of Mark or any gospel, we will see there will see Jesus constantly challenges the disciples to respond and to keep responding to his call and God’s plan for them. Our faith is to be like the disciples were that day, totally dependent on God and total belief n God’s promises to be with us always. In fact, we are clearly being told the life of a believer is to be constantly challenged to respond by trusting more, believing more and daily learning how to be disciples listening and responding to God telling us to go and bring healing to others.