Take Nothing But a Walking Stick

In today’s Gospel from St Mark, Jesus send out “the “Twelve” with instructions to “take nothing for the journey but a walking stick – no food, no sack, no money in their belts.”

I smile every time I read that passage. We were just away for a weekend and the CRV was packed with clothes, computer, snacks, hiking shoes, books, and so on and so forth. Go forth with nothing?

I think there are two different ways we might take Jesus’ instruction and both are worth reflecting on.

First is the invitation to rely on God rather than ourselves, to have faith that God will provide us with what we need as we go about proclaiming the Gospel. That doesn’t mean we don’t need to make any preparation, but it does mean that we remind ourselves that, ultimately, it is God who steers our ship, not us.

Second (and I credit my friend Beth for first pointing this reading out to me several years ago), we might read Jesus’ instruction as inviting us to leave behind the baggage we often carry around with us, baggage that distracts us from fully offering Jesus’ peace and love to those with whom we come in contact. That baggage may take different forms for different people, but we all have some of it (resentments…insecurities…worries of various types, etc) and whatever form the baggage takes, it impedes our ability to wholeheartedly preach the Gospel..

We could all profitably ask ourselves:
Am I willing to put myself completely in God’s hands? and
What is the baggage I need to leave behind to more effectively carry out the task to which Jesus has appointed me?