The mission of the twelve

Published July 11, 2021, 12:15 AM

by Manila Bulletin


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. 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.

 Messengers with authority from God

Pressures mount on us when we begin to involve ourselves in mission. This is not only true of priests and consecrated men and women. Even in our household, when we begin to live out our Christian calling, we feel the pressure on all sides: problems of children, meddling neighbors, or even zealous Christians expecting so much from us.

In the First Reading, the prophet Amos is driven away by the priest Amaziah from the royal sanctuary of Bethel. This is due to his disturbing message: if the prosperous and spoiled people of Samaria continue to oppress the poor, their sanctuary and royal palace will be destroyed, and they will be led to captivity by invaders. Amaziah accuses Amos of being a prophet for hire, and tells him to earn his bread in Judea. Amos replies that he is not a prophet by choice or profession; he is a shepherd and a dresser of sycamores. But the Lord sends him to warn Israel, and he cannot but go back to Judea. For who can resist the call of the Lord? “The lion roars—who will not be afraid! The Lord GOD speaks—who will not prophesy!” (Am 3:8).

After his own rejection in his native Nazareth, Jesus continues teaching in the villages of Galilee. Then he summons the Twelve (apostles) and sends them out two by two and gives them authority to heal and to expel unclean spirits. He warns them that no matter how sincere and simple they may be, no matter how well intentioned they may be in announcing the Good News, they too will have to deal with rejection. Their preaching will usher peace to the receptive household, but can also be a testimony against those who refuse to welcome and listen to them. As Apostles, they are messengers of God with authority from him, just like the prophet Amos in his own time. To reject them is to reject Jesus, and by extension to reject God himself.