Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Take Nothing For the Journey

"Take nothing for the journey, neither walking stick, nor sack, nor food, nor money, and let no one take a second tunic."  (Lk 9: 3)  In the Gospel for Wednesday, Jesus is sending His Apostles out to distant towns and villages to proclaim the good news of the gospel.  He instructs them to take absolutely nothing along with them except the clothes on their backs.  They are to take no walking stick, a necessity in the days of foot travel.  The food they were to eat to sustain themselves must be from the kindness of the local population that they meet along the way.  Money is forbidden as well.  They aren't even allowed a changed of clothes.  

Think of how we today prepare for even just an overnight trip.  At least one bag is mandatory to accommodate a change of clothes.  Then there is toothpaste and a tooth brush.  Usually, there are other things that we slip into our bag like a book or other reading material we may be enjoying at the moment.  None of us would think of going somewhere without at least these kinds of things.  Many of us take more just in case something happens.

But Jesus tells us that our journey homeward to His Heavenly Father must be made unencumbered.  He knows that our nature is such that if we do take anything along with us, we will be distracted by whatever our bags contain.  If we harbor a grudge in our hearts, eventually, we will begin to think about that grudge and the actions that led us to developing this.  Long ago hurts may surface and preoccupy our thoughts and time, realigning our focus from where it should be, namely our relationship with God.  

What exactly does it mean to make our way back to God without any possessions?  It means that we must keep ourselves free of sin.  We must be always on watch to guard against even the smallest of distractions lest we lose our way to heaven.  This represents a real challenge to those of us who claim to follow Jesus.  It means that we must make amends with all those whom we may have hurt over the years.  It means that we must forgive those who have injured us throughout our life.  This may not be very easy since some people have been grievously hurt by others through nearly every kind of abuse you might be able to think of.  

We must travel with nothing, nothing, that is, with the exception of the love of Christ in our hearts.  Jesus encountered plenty of hate long before He was put on trial and crucified.  There were those who followed Him all throughout His ministry who sought to destroy Him by proving that He was a fraud.  There were others who said nothing, but quietly harbored the desire to see this itinerant preacher dispatched quickly and quietly.  Yet, He always maintained his focus, that being the will of His Father.  He never allowed anyone or anything interfere with that.  Neither should we.

We must always keep our minds and hearts turned towards the Father.  We must always seek forgiveness for those moments when we have allowed ourselves to be distracted from this goal.  One sure way of seeing to this is living our lives in the light of love rather than the shadow of hate, fear, and anger.  We must live as Jesus did, with complete faith and trust in the Father of us all Who, after all, created us out of nothing else but love.  Therefore, our inheritance is that of love and if we use this gift everyday, we shall make our way back to our Father as Jesus wished, unencumbered.