“And he summoned the twelve, and began to send them out in pairs; and he gave them authority over the unclean spirits; and he charged them that they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only; no bread, no wallet, no money in their purse; but to go shod with sandals: and, said he, put not on two coats.” Mk 6: 8-9
In this short section from Mark’s unified Gospel message – we have the disciples being ‘sent out’….…..
‘Sent out’ – what to take with you? – nothing to pack other than a simple message – a message free from spin, not cloaked in fancy packaging – repent!
What has to be done, what we have to do as God’s chosen ones, is to be aware of the ‘good news’, spread the message of truth, of freedom and this requires no-thing, no possessions, no bread, no money, no haversack.
Yet our culture tells us different – tries to convince us that we need lots of things, tries to convince us to use our every waking moment gathering more and more stuff to take with us – possessions, money, cars, a haversack….weighed down – too full to be sent – and stripped of these possessions what are we left with – an empty shell with nothing to deliver.
Jewish culture sees things differently. It urges us to use our every waking moment not working to accumulate more and more stuff but to gain time – working to harvest time, time for family, for God, time to spread the Good News, to discover the truth.
While we are busy building great cathedrals in space, Judaism builds great cathedrals in time – festivals, sacred moments, the Sabbath – one day in the week – time guarded.
Mark, the Jew, echoes this emphasis – if you enter a house stay while you are welcome, but don’t waste time with those who don’t listen – walk away, wipe the dust from your under your feet…
And they went out proclaiming a message of Repentance – turn – wake up – don’t be fooled- taken in – become alert, attentive to what is happening – for attentiveness, as Nicephorus the hermit puts it, is the sign of perfect repentance. Attentiveness the sign of perfect repentance.
Without the Sabbath day, Sabbath times in our days, time to pay attention, we remain slaves in Egypt, slaves to the Pharohs in our lives….and the whips and chains of busyness and possessions.
Repent, become aware – turn – value time, not as a commodity but as a moment to share with your neighbour, with God and to spread the good news! Valuing time over space – a necessary corrective for us all.