Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
When Noah built his ark God commanded him “two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark.””… And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee…” This is poeticaly how Mark describes Jesus telling the Apostles to go out into the world.
The picture painted by Mark is of the twelve leaving an ark after “the flood”; the flood being Gods act of cleansing the world.The Flood as a deluge of water in the old testament, and Jesus the Christ in the new. In sending them out Jesus gave them “authority over unclean spirits”. He gave them authority over evil. As the flood cleansed the world in the Old Testament, so too Jesus sends his apostles out to do the same.He then gives instruction of what they can and can not take with them.
They are told to take a walking stick and to wear sandals. They are not to take food nor a sack nor money. In Marks version of this story the walking stick might give hint as what they are to do; by the name of that staff they are walk or journey.They are travelling not just village to village;they are traveling through life. Does the walking stick give these travelers a reminder here that this earth is not their final destination?Jesus also tells them to wear sandals.
Here is a line from further on in their sojourn that might make sense of why Jesus told them to wear sandals:” After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.”It is in Jesus passion that Jesus washes the feet of his disciples, its their feet that are unclean from their life journey.Might the sandals be a hint not to come in contact with the earths “dirt?” Not to become unclean? to stay clear of sin?On the same theme Jesus tells them not to carry a sack, perhaps to protect them from accumulating excessive baggage on this Journey. Would that baggage not be the same that he preached for them to loose?He tells them to take no food or money: Could it be that they are to rely and trust i n God alone?To have faith that God will protect them?Jesus tells them not to bring two tunics: Should they not be inconsistent, should they be true at all times?
Jesus is sending his disciples out into the world and in a short couple sentences he is summarizing his teachings.How fitting that Mark relays this story by sending them out in groups of two, perhaps that they are journeying from the ark. They are journeying out from that ark which protects them; the ark which is the image of Jesus’s church. They are sent out reminded that they are on a Journey, not at a destination. They are reminded to stay clean and not to be burdened with the material goods of this earth . They are reminded to have faith in God who is the Father, the Son, and the holy Spirit….