When I walked the Camino the fall before last, the clothes I took for an almost six-week trip fit into a relatively small plastic bag.
I thought of that as I listened to today’s Gospel in Mass this morning. St. Mark describes Jesus sending out the Apostles two by two, with the instruction “to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick—no food, no sack, no money in their belts.”
I loved the freedom I enjoyed both on the Camino and during the time I lived in Nepal and India, largely living out of what I could carry on my back. It is a freedom we don’t often enjoy, as we can easily let ourselves be weighed down by more belongings than we really need.
As a practical matter, it would be very difficult for us to follow Jesus’ instructions to the T; we don’t live in a world that easily accommodates our playing our role in God’s plan carrying absolutely nothing for the journey.
But that doesn’t mean there is not an invitation for us in this Gospel, as I’ve suggested on other occasions.
First, how much am I willing to rely on God rather than on myself? Do I 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. (The deepening of this realization was one of the graces of the retreat I did last month.)
Second, what distracting baggage can we leave behind? What is the baggage that distracts us from fully offering Jesus’ peace and love to those with whom we come in contact? (Again, this was something I spent some time reflecting on during my retreat, and it was quite revealing.)