In today’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles, the Holy Spirit speaks and the disciples obey, sending two of their number off on a dangerous sea journey to Cyprus. If the journey was dangerous, each disciple at least had a companion to strengthen the other and provide for what the other lacked. It is interesting that so often the disciples are sent out in pairs, even though they could have reached twice as many places if they had gone out singly instead. However, the fact that they were sent out by the Holy Spirit in pairs allowed them to realize that the Gospel they preach is not about any one person or the great gifts he might have to offer. Instead, the Gospel is preached to a community by a community, and even when Saul or Barnabas were alone, they still had the company of the other disciples standing behind them to give their message the authority that comes from speaking not of one’s own accord but on the behalf of another.
Something similar is pointed out in the words of Jesus in today’s Gospel. In the same way that the disciples are sent forth to preach the Word of God to all the ends of the earth, Jesus too is sent by the Father into the world as his Word in order to accomplish the will of the Father. The disciples being sent out is thus a continuation of the sending out of the Word of God, and their going out together perhaps points to the fact that Jesus was never alone in his preaching but was always in perfect union with the Father as well. May we be ever mindful of our need for companions in our Christian life, and may we imitate Jesus in returning to the Father each day in order to know and accomplish his will, that we might build up our companions in the faith and hear the voice of the Holy Spirit when he speaks in our midst.