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Gospel for Sunday, July 11: Mark 6: 7-13

XV Sunday B

7Then he called the Twelve, and began to send them out two by two and gave them power over unclean spirits. 8And he ordered them that, besides the staff, they should take nothing for the journey: neither bread, nor pouch, nor money in the bag; 9but, wearing only sandals, they did not wear two tunics. 10And he said to them: “When you enter a house, stay there until you leave that place. 11If in any place they will not receive you or listen to you, when you go away, shake the dust from under your feet as a testimony to them”. 12And when they left, they preached that people should convert, 13they cast out many demons, anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.

Mark 6: 7-13

Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Misericordie, I am Carlo Miglietta, doctor, biblical scholar, layman, husband, father and grandfather (

Also today I share with you a short meditation thought on the Gospel, with special reference to the theme of mercy.

Jesus sends his Disciples two by two because, according to the book of Deuteronomy (Dt 19.15), to be valid a testimony had to be given by two people. The testimony of a single person is not enough to convict someone who has committed a crime, a crime or any other crime. The accusation must be proven by at least two witnesses. In the Gospels and Acts, couples of Apostles are often presented; some of these couples are famous: Peter and John, Cleophas and the other disciple of Emmaus, John and Andrew at the beginning of the Gospel of John; in Acts, Barnabas and Saul, then Barnabas and Mark who are uncle and nephew, then Paul and Silas, and also married couples, such as Aquila and Priscilla, Andronicus and Junia.

But there is a deeper meaning why Jesus sends his children two by two. Jesus does not work alone like the ancient Prophets: Jesus lives in community, he wants his people to go two by two precisely to give testimony of community life. The Christian faith is not for individualists: it is not I who save my soul by relating alone to my Lord; the Christian faith is the community that is with Jesus. It is welcoming brothers. The Christian faith is community life, it is belonging to a People, to the People of God, belonging to an assembly, “Ecclesia”, the Church.

And it is this community that is called to be with Jesus, that is sent on mission, that drives out demons, that heals the sick.

The disciples are sent to cast out demons: “He sent them two by two and gave them power over unclean spirits”: the only task of the Church is to cast out demons, that is, to fight against the spirit of evil, which is a spirit of selfishness , spirit of power, spirit of exploitation, spirit of lies, spirit of man’s enslavement, spirit of domination. It is against this spirit that the Church must wage her struggle, and the Christian community must fight, in every area, on every occasion.

This passage is the Magna Carta of the Church if she wants to be faithful to her mandate. It is a small manual, which was given into the hands of the first Christians, with rules in part probably given by Jesus himself, a sort of handbook of the first preachers of the Apostolic Church.

What is the spirit behind these exhortations? The radicality necessary to bear witness to the Gospel. The call is to radical poverty. Being with Jesus means being poor, like the Son of Man who has nowhere to lay his head. The mission is to bear witness with one’s life that the only treasure is Jesus Christ, and that therefore one does not rely on human treasures. Poverty is a “sacrament”, it is an “effective sign” of our faith in God. Without poverty there is no faith: the disciples are those who must trust only in God, that God who provides for the birds of the sky and dresses the lilies of the field.

And this is why the disciples will not have to carry the bag with them, they will not even have to carry the bread, because as we will read in Mc 8,14, they have with them the only bread which is Christ himself. In their stripping, in their emptying, in their not relying on anything concrete and earthly, they will testify that only Christ is the bread that completely feeds. The rule of going to the first house that comes across and stopping there is given precisely so that one does not choose the most beautiful house, so that one does not choose the house of the rich, so that one does not seek the support of the powerful. In Mark, who writes to the Italians, he says to shake off the mud; Matthew, who writes to the Jews, says to shake off the dust, because in Israel there is a desert. It is a symbolic gesture that every Israelite made when he passed into pagan land. It is a gesture of separation, a gesture of accusation, but it also expresses the absolute non-violence, liberality, gratuitousness, freedom with which the message is offered. I offer the Christian Word: if they don’t accept it it doesn’t matter, I don’t impose it with the sword and the crusades: I shake my sandals: it is a gesture of absolute gratuitousness.

The disciples then preach the Word and signify it with concrete gestures, such as casting out demons and healing the sick with oil. Their mission is therefore evidently a divine mission, because they announce the Kingdom, they make it known that God has come among men, but this proclamation must be confirmed with gestures of human liberation.

We must rediscover the urgency of evangelization, of “going two by two into the world to announce the Kingdom of God, to heal the sick and to cast out demons”. If the great love that sustains our life is Jesus Christ, we must feel the need to tell others and concretely bear witness to this love. To the extent that we are Christians we are all apostles, that is, “sent, sent”.

Happy Mercy to all!

Anyone who would like to read a more complete exegesis of the text, or some insights, please ask me at


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