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Sent to heal and save in poverty and weakness
15th Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 15, 2012
By Fr. Sal Putzu, SDB
THE sending of the Twelve was an act of tremendous importance in Jesus’ apostolic life. Luke informs us that Jesus had chosen the Twelve after a whole night spent in prayer. (See Lk 6:12f.) He chose them from various walks of life to be his assistants, the “core group” among his disciples. Mark tells us that Jesus went up a mountain and there “he summoned those whom he wanted and they came to him. He appointed twelve” (Mk 3:13-14).
The number twelve, was neither an irrelevant detail, nor a casual similarity with the number of the tribes of Israel. It was all part of a plan—Christ’s plan to make of that “special group” of disciples the beginning and the very foundation of the new people of God – the Church. (See Rev 21:14.)
And now there came the first practical assignment: to go and do what Jesus himself had been doing in his apostolic life: to preach repentance, to cast out demons, and to heal the sick. (See Mk 6:12-13.) Jesus took the initiative of sharing with them his own mission. For the time being, their apostolic activity would be limited to the people of Israel, but after the Ascension their field of action would be widened to encompass the whole world. (See Mk 16:15.)
But whether they exercised their mission among their own people or beyond the borders of Israel, two things were to characterize them: poverty and detachment. (See Mk 6:8.) After all, they were the disciples and ambassadors of the One who chose to possess not even a stone on which to lay his head. Underlining such external manifestations of the lack of material means was the deep faith in God’s Providence—the reliance on the loving care of the One who sent them on mission. They knew that He who feeds the birds in the sky and makes the flowers grow in all their splendor (see Mt 6:25-34) would surely take care of those He sent to proclaim the Gospel and make it “happen” in the lives of the listeners.
But this absence of (and detachment from) material means did not mean that the twelve were totally helpless and “broke.” They were endowed, in fact, with two most precious “assets”: the “Message” they were bringing, and the power to expel demons and to cure the sick.
For all their “power,” however, they would always remain vulnerable people. The danger of being rejected would accompany them at all times. In this also they would resemble the prophets of old (see the First Reading) and Jesus himself who had been rejected by his own townsfolk.
And yet, in spite of their personal weakness and the external oppositions, their mission would go on until the end of time. And they would overcome all obstacles, thanks to the continuous presence and assistance of the One who has overcome the world. (See Jn 16:33.)