15th Sun OT - Yr B - 2015
Have you ever wondered why what we do around this altar is called ‘the Mass’? The answer to that question was a game-changer for me. I won’t bore you with all the grammatical details but it comes down to this: the word for our celebrations around this altar – our Mass – in its most fundamental meaning is Sending. That’s right – each time we gather at Church to celebrate the Mass we’re really coming together for ‘The Sending’ – that’s why at the end of the Mass we’re told one way or another to ‘go forth’. We’ve come for ‘The Sending’, and once the sending is accomplished, it only makes sense that we are told to go. Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord, glorifying the Lord by your life, because The Sending has been accomplished.
I’ve been thinking about that this week, because our Gospel reading today reminds us of that early ‘sending’ – Jesus sent the twelve apostles into the world to preach repentance – inviting folks to change their ways, to come back to God with all their hearts, and get a taste of this new and different kind of freedom that life in Christ offers. But we know, of course, that – just as He sent them – He has sent us. It was the last thing He said to us before He ascended, in fact. ‘Go into all the world…baptize them, teach them…’ It was the last thing Jesus said to His followers, and it’s the last thing said to us in every Mass we attend.
But I wonder…do we leave here as a people who have been sent? Are we living our lives as ‘sent people’ – people sent on a mission to change the world? As we think about how we spend our time day to day – as we think about the conversations we have, and how we spend our money, and all of it – when we depart from ‘The Sending’ each week – do we live as a people sent on a mission? If we pay attention to how Jesus first sent those apostles in today’s reading, maybe we’ll find something that can help us live as a sent people ourselves.
First – he sent them just as they were, with nothing more than what they already had. Jesus sent his apostles with nothing but the clothes on their backs - literally. 'Don't go home, don't pack extras just in case, and don’t use the need to stockpile supplies or get better prepared as an excuse to delay your departure. Instead, take stock of what you have right now - notice that what you already have is more than enough - and trust that I will provide whatever else you're going to need.'
Becoming willing to ‘go forth’ on a mission for Christ with only what we already have makes getting started as easy as taking the first step. You don’t need any additional preparation or planning, so there’s no reason to delay.
How many times have you felt the stirrings of the Holy Spirit in your heart to step out in faith and witness to the Gospel, but said to yourself, ‘I will do that one day…once I’ve had a chance to learn more about my faith.’ How often have we said, ‘I really want to get involved in this or that ministry of the Church, and I will…once I have more time, or money, or confidence, or…’ - well… you can fill in the blank.
If we pay careful attention to Gospel, we see that Jesus sent them with what they already had right there with them. He told them they didn’t need anything else – they didn’t need any more knowledge or courage or time. They didn’t need to overcome their deficiencies or become better disciples. All they needed to do was be ready to go. And the same is true for us. We’re ready as soon as we trust that we’re already ready!
Second – Jesus sends us as part of a community. The only thing Jesus did insist that the apostles take with them was one another. Two by two he sent them out. The introverts, who might have preferred to go alone, were sent together with another. The conservative or zealot among them sent out right along with the liberal or more easy-going. (That’s right - He sent them together; they had to find a way to work and live and pray and minister together. That’s a homily all on its own, isn’t it?) You see, those preferences and perspectives: none of it mattered - Jesus sent them out together.
When we accept today that the Lord is sending you and I out from this place on a mission, we have to re-orient our minds a bit. We don’t need a second pair of shoes, or money, or more training, or better preparation - but we do need one another.
What a lesson that is for us! We sometimes seem to forget that we are called to a life of discipleship and mission as part of a community of faith. Alone, it is all to easy to make the ministry and mission about ourselves, or our own particular way of thinking. Alone, it is all too easy to become discouraged and give up. Alone we are weak, and vulnerable to attack by the enemy. Alone, we can delay; alone we can find excuses as to why I can’t step forward to play a part in that ministry. But together…together we are strong; together we are well defended against our own pride, against defeat or discouragement. Together we help one another focus on the Lord instead of ourselves. And together, we can shed our excuses and get involved in the ministry of the Church and in living a life of faith everywhere we go.
Together we can live as a sent people whose lives are ordered and prioritized by the mission of love and service and evangelization we are all sent on at the end of every Mass.
“Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord.” After we offer God the Father the one true sacrifice of His Son at this altar in a few minutes – after we receive Jesus Christ Himself in Holy Communion and recognize that He is all we ever need to live life on a mission – after we recognize the family of faith we are with one another as we gather together at this Sending – after all these things, we are ready. We have everything we need and are ready to be sent to be living witnesses to life in Christ in the world around us.
May the Holy Spirit inspire us today to go forth from this place, as a sent people – living our lives on a mission for Christ.