February 4, 2016
I was recently packing for an overnight trip, one of the few I've had since heart surgery at the beginning of December. Not quite nine weeks have passed since the operation, so there are still some limitations on my physical activity. One of them is a restriction on how much I can lift. Thus as I packed one of the challenges that I had was trying to fit what I needed into a relatively small roller bag and a backpack that wouldn't cause stress and strain. Faced with my personal limitations as well as my abundance of stuff, it wasn't too hard to sort the essential from the rest in order to travel lightly.
In today's gospel passage, Jesus encourages his disciples to travel lightly: two by two, with just a walking stick, sandals and a single tunic and "no food, no sack, no money in their belts." Even their mission was stripped down: healing people troubled by unclean spirits, anointing the sick, preaching repentance, and humbly accepting the hospitality of others. In a world of ministries with compound mission statements, multi-million dollar budgets, HR and development departments, donor lists, etc. such simplicity is refreshing and may seem almost quaint to some.
But Jesus' message and challenge to the disciples is timeless and applies to all ministries, regardless of their size and complexity: focus on what's essential; be faithful to what you have been called to do; and realize that it's not all up to you. In other words, travel lightly.--JC