Memorial of Saint Agatha, Virgin and Martyr

The gospel today provides us with the original “pack light” admonition for a trip. Jesus advises those he sends out to carry the bare minimum; even telling them don’t bring any cash or a credit card. One of the meanings of the gospel we can draw from this passage is that Jesus is emphasizing that the Good News is all that is needed, don’t worry about anything else. Of course the apostles were taking only the Good News, not elderly parents, teenagers, small children, and perhaps the family dog. Our roles in life provide us with more than enough needs and requirements. Keeping the gang fed, watered, and on time to soccer games requires lots of “stuff” to help us get through the day.  Thinking about material needs we can recall the episode when Jesus visits Martha and Mary. Mary sits at the feet of Jesus and Martha is in the kitchen, and not too happy about it. My question is, did Jesus admonish Martha before or after he ate the dinner she prepared?

Although our lives have certainly gotten more complex than the time of Jesus when the issue was how many sandals to bring on the trip, the essential message of the gospel still stands as point of reflection: How much are we carrying and is it needed? There is no answer except what we find in our hearts after we look at our most important goals and what are those things that are helping us achieve them.

Two examples from Jesuit history may be helpful. Francis Xavier left for the orient with his cassock, vow cross, and breviary.  Peter De Smet carried several trunks with him filled with artworks, books, and religious items. Both were successful. Both men realized that to work in the vineyard of the Lord you need equipment but that the Lord’s work is the focus and the equipment is the means.  Today’s gospel reminds us that we constantly need to remind ourselves of what essentials we need for the journey, and more importantly, the desired and fundamental goal of our journey.

February 5th, 2015