Jesus' preaching reflected his basic religious convictions. He believed that his understanding of God would be "good news" for people. He shared his convictions that this would be good news for the poor, that it would bring sight to those who were blind, bring freedom to those who were held captive and would set free those who were on the fringe and downtrodden. This is why he gathered his disciples and sent them, two by two, to "spread the word."
The dominant theme of today's scriptures is that of "being sent."
Amos protested that he was a shepherd and no prophet, but the Lord commanded him nonetheless: "Go and prophesy to my people Israel." God was saying "Trust me!" Paul was a zealous Jew who set out to seek and destroy members of the new Christian sect when he was rendered blind and helpless, and then sent out to preach the Gospel. God was saying rather dramatically: "Trust me!"
The Twelve were sent out on their mission of preaching repentance and conversion with strict orders to take nothing with them except a walking stick...again it was clearly the Lord's way of saying: "Trust me!"
It can be an honor to know that we are "chosen." It can also be traumatic when we suddenly realize that we are "being sent" to do great things.
We tend to want to clutter up our lives and carry a lot of extra baggage - just in case - because we are always tempted to think that we are to succeed because of our effort, our resources. It is hard for us to let go - really hard for us to trust God totally - to simply rely on a "walking stick." Often we think that our faithfulness - our effectiveness as disciples - is the result of our own prayers and good works. We begin to grow proud and independent. And that's when we can get into trouble.
Another consideration: Jesus sends the Twelve - two by two - on their mission to preach the Kingdom. He does this for a reason. Not only do we need to place our trust in God - we also need to place our trust in one another. This is a job that we cannot accomplish alone. We need each other for support and protection. We are responsible not only for the Word of God, but for one another as well. This is an important fact for us to remember - especially in the politically-charged atmosphere in which we live today. If we are truly committed to Christ and the Good News we are sent to proclaim, perhaps a change in our patterns of living and thinking,and a cutting out of “excess baggage” will speak more clearly the message we are sent to preach.
If the Christian religion has something worthwhile to say to a contemporary world that is fast becoming more and more dismissive of many of Christianity's traditional images, language, and claims, then this "something worthwhile" has to be found in the preaching of Jesus. And as his followers, we must be able to articulate this preaching with clarity and enthusiasm.
This is the mission that the Twelve were sent to accomplish. It is our mission as well. We need to constantly remember where Jesus was coming from, to reflect upon where we ourselves are coming from, and to place our complete trust in His promise.
We are called as pilgrims and sinners. But we are also called as persons aware that we have been sealed with the Spirit, persons redeemed and forgiven by the blood of Christ. Despite all of our protests of unworthiness and ineptitude, the Lord reassures us. "Go", He says "take nothing with you, except the walking stick of faith... my grace will make you effective witnesses and faithful disciples... Trust me!"