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Gospel for Sunday, July 14: Mark 6:7-13

XV Sunday Year B

7 Then he called the Twelve, and began to send them out two by two, and gave them power over unclean spirits. 8 And he commanded them that, besides the staff, they should take nothing for the journey: neither bread, nor saddlebags, nor money in the bag; 9 but, wearing only sandals, they should not put on two tunics. 10 And he said to them, “When you have entered a house, stay there until you leave that place. 11 If in any place they will not receive you and hear you, going away, shake the dust from under your feet, as a testimony for them.” 12 And they departed, and preached that people should be converted, 13 and cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many sick people, and healed them.

Mk 6:7-13

Care sorelle e fratelli della Misericordie, sono Carlo Miglietta, medico, biblista, laico, marito, padre e nonno (www.buonabibbiaatutti.it). Anche oggi condivido con voi un breve pensiero di meditazione sul Vangelo, con speciale riferimento al tema della misericordia.

JESUS SENDS DISCIPLES ON MISSION (Mark 6:7-13)

Jesus sends his Disciples two by two because according to the book of Deuteronomy (Deut. 19:15), a testimony to be valid had to be given by two people. The testimony of only one person is not enough to convict one who has committed a crime, offense or any fault. The accusation must be proven by at least two witnesses.

In the Gospels and Acts, pairs of Apostles are often presented, some of these pairs are famous: Peter and John, Cleophas and 1 other disciple at Emmaus, John and Andrew at the beginning of John’s Gospel; in Acts, Barnabas and Saul, then Barnabas and Mark who are cousins, then Paul and Silas, and also married pairs, such as Aquila and Priscilla, Andronicus and Junia.

But there is a deeper meaning for which Jesus sends his own two by two. Jesus does not operate alone like the ancient Prophets: Jesus lives in community; he wants his own to go two by two precisely to give witness to community life. Christian faith is not for individualists: it is not me saving my soul by relating to my Lord alone; Christian faith is community being with Jesus. It is the receiving of brothers and sisters. 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, casting out demons, healing the sick.

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

This passage is the Magna Carta of the Church if it is to be faithful to its mandate. It is a handbook, which was given to the early Christians, with rules in part probably given by Jesus himself, a kind of vademecum of the early preachers of the Apostolic Church.

What is the spirit underlying these exhortations? The radicality needed to witness to the Gospel.

If we analyze the parallel passages given in the other synoptics, Matthew and Luke (Mt 10:1,5-15; Lk 9:1-8), we notice some differences.

The theme of forsaking possessions is present in Jesus’ instructions to the twelve apostles, sending them out on mission: “These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them as follows: ‘Do not get gold, nor silver, nor copper coin in your belts, nor saddlebags for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor staff, for the laborer has a right to his nourishment'” (Mt 10:5-10). Luke, usually more radical, premises, “Take nothing for the journey,” and then takes up the Matthean list, “neither staff, nor saddlebag, nor bread, nor money, nor two tunics for each one” (Lk 9:3), adding “the bread” and omitting “the sandals,” and without concluding with the reference to the right to nourishment, as if to emphasize the value in itself of a poor witness. Mark, on the other hand, grants the Twelve the staff and sandals: “And he commanded them that, besides the staff, they should take nothing for the journey: neither bread, nor saddlebags, nor money in the bag; but, putting on only sandals, they should not put on two tunics” (Mark 6:8-9). Perhaps this is already a mitigation of the first community, but it does not take away the sense of the profound call to a poor mission, all entrusted to God and not to human means.

In another passage from Luke, Jesus’ invitation is extended to all seventy-two disciples: “The Lord appointed seventy-two other disciples…. He said to them, ‘Do not carry a bag or a saddlebag or sandals'” (Luke 10:4).

Matthew does not allow the staff because he is writing to the Jews, and the Talmud, a commentary on Jewish spirituality, said, “You shall not enter the house of God with a staff, nor with sandals nor with a saddlebag”: so it was a sense of sacredness to enter without a staff.

Mark also allows sandals because he is writing to the Italians: because of the cold weather, he gives them sandals.

In addition, Matthew says not to preach to pagans (Mt 10:5), while Mark, who is speaking to Italians, obviously allows it.

But beyond these differences, which are due to the communities receiving the message, the call is to radical poverty. Radical poverty is the essence of being with Jesus. To be with Jesus is to be poor, like the Son of Man who has nowhere to lay his head. The mission is to witness with one’s life that the only treasure is Jesus Christ, so one does not rely on human treasures. Poverty is “sacrament,” it is “effective sign” of our faith in God.

Without poverty there is no faith: disciples are those who must trust in God alone, the God who provides for the birds of the air and clothes the lilies of the field.

The Church will be able to bear witness to Christ only when it can speak to the world, like Peter and John, who at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple say to the cripple, “Look toward us. We have neither silver nor gold, but what we possess we give you: in the name of Jesus the Nazarene stand up and walk” (Acts 3:1-10). If they had gold and silver, they would have given him alms, but they would have left the crippled man as before. They have neither gold nor silver, but they proclaim Christ with his “exousìa” and “dynamis,” with his authority and power. Able to heal the sick, raise the dead, convert sinners. And that is why — we are introduced to the “Bread Section” (Mk. 6:6-8:26) — the disciples do not have to carry their saddlebags with them, they do not even have to carry bread because, as we will read in Mk. 8:14, they have with them the one bread that is Christ himself. In their stripping, in their emptying, in their reliance on nothing concrete and earthly they will testify that Christ alone is the bread that feeds completely.

The norms of going to the first house that comes along and stopping there are precisely given so that they do not choose the most beautiful house, so that they do not choose the house of the rich, so that they do not seek the support of the powerful. In Mark it says to shake the mud: we are in Italy; Matthew says to shake the dust, because he was in the desert. It is a symbolic gesture that every Israelite made when passing through pagan land. It is a gesture of separation, a gesture of accusation, but it also expresses the absolute nonviolence, 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 bring it with the sword and crusades: I shake my shoes: it is a gesture of absolute gratuity.

Disciples are to preach, cast out demons, heal the sick: disciples therefore preach the Word and signify it with concrete gestures, such as casting out demons and healing the sick with oil. Their mission is thus evidently a divine mission, for they proclaim the Kingdom, make known that God has come among men, but this witness must be confirmed by gestures of human deliverance.

The great combination of Christian life is evangelization and human promotion. The Council always insists when it speaks of the mission of all believers, priests, sisters of the laity, that they must witness in word and deed. It is a refrain that is rooted precisely in this: the believer is not only the one who proclaims the Gospel: the believer is the one who places concrete gestures of the newness of the Kingdom. So he creates situations of communion, of solidarity, of helping the poor, of reintegrating those who are excluded. Our witness is stunted if we lack the Word or if we lack works.

We are not called to do only charity, to create a new world: we have something more to say to others: we have to say that Christ is Risen, overcomes our death, that Christ heals our sins, makes us children of God. But neither can we just say, “We are all going to Heaven: come on!” We must already today concretely place the signs of newness of life that the great message of Christ’s victory over evil and death have brought into history: and these signs are his fraternal charity, they are helping the last, they are sharing the last place.

Mark’s Gospel is the Gospel of the disciple: this passage is not addressed to priests or nuns, or to those who leave as missionaries. We must reread this passage in peace, in calm, in each of us, because the call the mission in poverty and in gestures applies to each of us. Said the Council, “The Church, when she becomes aware of herself, rediscovers herself as missionary by nature” (Ad gentes, no. 2). Each of us, on the basis of our Baptism, has received the prophetic mission: each of us is a prophet, from the Greek “propaino,” “I speak on behalf” of God. Each one of us must speak for God.

Today God has no other mouth to speak, no other hands to embrace, no other feet to reach, than the mouth, hands and feet of each of us. The Council reiterates that there are places and circumstances where, if the laity does not come, the Kingdom of God will never come (Lumen Gentium, no. 33). Each of us must therefore become aware that we are evangelized in order to evangelize, that we are called in order to call. The Hebrew word “prophet” is ‘”nabim,” which is derived from the Akkadian “nabu,” meaning to call “the called”: the Christian is the one who is called to call. The Christian is a prophet because he has been summoned to summon.

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

Buona Misericordia a tutti!

Chi volesse leggere un’esegesi più completa del testo, o qualche approfondimento, me lo chieda a migliettacarlo@gmail.com .

Fonte

Spazio Spadoni

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