Carry Nothing but the Word
Fifteenth Sunday of the Year. Fr Leo Edgar examines how the excess baggage of modern life can get in the way of peaching the Word.
Is it fear that prompts us to rely on modern technological advances in communication? An interesting question, perhaps. Are we too afraid to rely on the gift of memory? Is this the “power” referred to in the passage from Mark’s gospel?
Mark writes of the power conferred by Jesus on those he sent out. But along with the power he gave them, he also instructed them on how important it was not to be restricted by unnecessary ‘baggage’.
No extra tunic, one pair of sandals; little, presumably, in the way of food or money.
To be able to trust in the generosity of others is indeed a great virtue, particularly in a society that nowadays rarely goes anywhere without a cell phone or a laptop. Is it fear that prompts us to rely more and more on artificial means of communication? Fear that we can no longer rely on memory, one of the greatest of the gifts of the Holy Spirit? The Twelve Apostles had no such restrictions or fears in their preaching, going out to the whole world to share the Good News.
Remembering some of the great Christian preachers of the past, Paul & Barnabas, Dominic & Francis of Assisi, Vincent McNabb, Billy Graham, Martin Luther King, and, in more recent times, some of our own contemporaries, what inspires the preaching of the Good News is the News itself. The gospels never cease to inspire, no matter how frequently we visit them – in fact the more often we approach the ‘Word’ the greater the impact it should have on our lives, the more Christ’s power is working through us.
Jesus sent his disciples, his preachers, out into the world with a clear message: “Tell the world the Good News that I have given you.”
Nothing else is needed; no advertising; no TV commercials; no computerised back-ups; simply the word as it is given to them should be passed on without additional ‘baggage’.
The ability to preach the gospel therefore, depends not so much on externals as on a desire to convince one’s hearers of the validity, the truth, of the message one preaches. Accompanied by healing powers given by Christ and through faith, the impact can be dynamic, and no doubt was, and still is.
The Acts of the Apostles tells us little of the impact made by Christ sending his ambassadors into the world; but Mark tells us that the Twelve set out and preached repentance, casting out demons and anointing and healing many who were sick. St. Paul’s letters give a more detailed & graphic coverage of the effect of his early preaching.
Current ambassadors of the Word have a distinct legacy to live up to in their bringing the Good News to the world of today. Modern technology should assist in that task, as it enables the message to reach beyond the boundaries of conventional church. But above all we should recognize the power that accompanies the preaching of the Good News. Even the poorest of preachers can produce a rich result in the minds of those who listen.
And there is a warning: if there are those who refuse to listen, then we should not be afraid to shake off the dust from the feet, and leave the task to another, possibly at another time.
There seem to be two clear messages in this Passage from Mark; one, that Christ’s church must not allow itself to get clogged down with too much “baggage”, too many irrelevant additional rules that may detract from the preaching message; and two that it must be prepared for those who refuse to listen, but stay determined to continue to preach the Good News in the same way that Christ himself continually preached.