Lightening the Load
If you are anything like me, you have a tendency to overpack. A two-night camping trip? I better bring an extra package of water bottles because the 28 pack plus the full package of Powerade we already have might not be enough. A trip home to hot and humid Louisiana to visit family in early September? I should pack a jacket in the very off-chance that the temperature somehow drops below 60°. A weekend ACTS retreat? I better bring a week’s worth of socks, just in case. You get the idea.
In this Sunday’s Gospel, St. Luke writes about Jesus appointing the 72 and sending them off in pairs. Jesus tells them, “Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; and greet no one along the way” (Luke 10:3-4).
Imagine yourself as one of the 72. Are you taken aback by the instructions you are receiving from Jesus? Are you wondering what you are getting yourself into? Perhaps Jesus and his words resonate with such assurance and belief in your ability that you are confident to go forth and spread the good news, trusting that God will provide for you along the way.
For me, I imagine I might approach Jesus and double-check with him before I depart with the others. “Lord, are you sure I shouldn’t bring a pair of sandals in case we encounter some rough or rocky terrain? You know? Just to be safe.” But there is no overpacking allowed on this journey.
What about the part where Jesus tells them not to greet anyone along the way? That sounds a little harsh and impolite, doesn’t it? I think the real meaning behind that line is not unfriendliness, but rather emphasizing the need to move with a sense of urgency on this important mission.
If we overpack, how can we move with this required urgency? Everything we would bring would weigh us down. This applies to our hearts as well. Let us take some time to examine what we carry in our hearts. Are we burdened by heavy loads like jealousy or anger, preventing us from being the active, dynamic missionary disciples we are called to be?
Thankfully, Jesus gives us a way to lighten our load through the sacrament of Reconciliation. If you have not been in a while, it might be time to go and unpack that suitcase so that you can travel light again. Open your heart and allow the Holy Spirit to enter in and move you so that you can more fully share God’s love with others and return rejoicing like the 72 in the Gospel.
By Kenneth Caruthers, Director of Communication