Take nothing for the journey

gate01 450I was attracted to the readings for today, Thursday 9th July, for this reflection. As Jesus sent his disciples to preach the nearness of the Kingdom, he sent them also to be uncluttered in their ministry.  They were to give freely of what they, themselves, had received. They were also to take nothing extraneous.

“Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts— no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep. Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave” (Matthew 10:7-15).

There are many interpretations of what this could mean for each of us in the gospel context. One such interpretation is the invitation to live simply and single mindedly placing our entire dependence on God.

Jesus did not want his disciples to be bogged down or distracted from what they were about. They were to go unencumbered because they were not to be distracted by taking care of themselves or their things. Rather, they were to be fully present to the other and to the presence and call of God which manifests itself to the one who is empty enough to receive it.

So often our lives can be cluttered with too much baggage that can rob us of the peace that comes with living simply. Our baggage can be many things: belongings; expectations be they our own or others’ expectations of us; judgement and criticism of others; illusions that peace comes with success, the approval of others, self-sufficiency; fears, anxieties and the desire to be in control of our lives. Certainly, we are being tested in relation to the latter in the continuing uncertain days of Covid 19.

We can also feel that our lives are somehow incomplete, as we experience them. As a result, we can search to fill in what we perceive to be missing. We anxiously reach out for things hoping that new experiences or opportunities, more wealth, power, or the notice and affirmation from others will satisfy the deep longing within us. Despite the uselessness of this search, we think such things will answer our longing. Yet our experience shows us that it never does. The more we seek, and are disappointed, the more we realize how such things leave us dissatisfied.

Paul exhorts us, “If you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory” (Col:3:1-4).

How do we live this new life to which we are invited and set our minds on that which is above, rather than on earthly things? The answer, I believe is found in the first reading from Hosea (11:1-4, 8e-9). Here, we find an image of God as one of profound care and tenderness, a God of love who was revealed in the person of Jesus, a God who never cease to love us. At every moment of every day, God is ceaselessly accompanying us and offering us God’s love. Every moment is a gift from God, and an opportunity to recognize God’s ceaseless giving and gifting and to receive God’s love.

The question is: Do we accept God’s unconditional love and acceptance of us? Do we realize that God is the answer to all our hopes and dreams and that our hearts are, indeed, restless until they rest in God? Until we can accept the prodigal love of God for ‘me, personally,’ I suggest that we will seek as, indeed, the children of Israel sought, any and every ‘idol’ to fill the yearning of our hearts which can only be filled by God. Only by welcoming and accepting God’s profound and personal love for each of us can God’s love fill the void within us and enable us to be love for our brothers and sisters.

Joan Chichester who knows how easily we can miss God’s presence and love says:

We know God is present in all things, but we may tend to forget the envelope that contains it … Persons, actions, events are the medium through which God comes. The given moment is the only place one can meet God. In God there is no time, only the eternal now. God lives in that now moment on the other side of the veil that separates time from eternity. We enter the vestibule of that "now" when we concentrate on the present moment. Our beloved God is there, and it behooves us to be there as well. To enter the now moment is to let anxiety fall off our shoulders and to be renewed in hope by touching the God who loves us.

Even during the uncertainty we face during the ongoing Covid 19 pandemic, God is journeying with us and saying in innumerable ways, “I am with you.” No  matter the situation, be it one of joy or pain, we are held in and supported by God’s loving embrace. In our world of pandemic, of change, of violence and of conflict, there is one absolute certainly. God, who loves us beyond measure, is with us.

Perhaps, we are being invited to walk in the presence of God in a “moment-to-moment experience of God’s love.” Then, we are better able to live from the ground of God who continually sustains us rather than letting the winds of chance and change blow us off course because we do not realize the nearness of God who loves each of us so dearly. Let us be attuned to how God comes to each of us, personally, and accept the boundless love that is offered to us, trusting always in God’s utter goodness and the ceaseless love, support and companionship God offers us.


Pauline Compton fdnsc


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