July 7, 2021
As a young boy growing up in North Bay, Ontario, I had the opportunity to go to Catholic elementary and secondary schools and to belong to the wonderful parish of the Pro-Cathedral of the Assumption. There, in the context of growing up in my Catholic family, slowly and eventually, I began to experience the call to follow Jesus in the priesthood. But, which priesthood? The priests in my parish were diocesan priests and the priests in my high school were Resurrectionists. Both were wonderful and both attracted me, but how to decide?
Eventually, it came down to the fact that the diocesan priests that I knew were for the most part solitary individuals doing ministry in a parish without living with or having the assistance of another diocesan priest. In contrast, the Resurrectionists at Scollard Hall (my high school) lived together and worked together. These men had a common mission and they dedicated their lives to it and to helping each other in the vineyard. So what drew me to being a Resurrectionist as opposed to a diocesan priest was the common life and the common mission. This brings us to today’s readings.
This Sunday’s Gospel and the next are the last two before our attention turns to the Bread of Life Discourse from John’s Gospel used from the 17th to the 21st Sundays. This Sunday we read Mark 6:7-13 and hear about how Jesus called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. Jesus then instructs them on the “rules” of being sent, i.e., being an apostle of his: Take nothing for the journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money, only one tunic and wear sandals. “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” We are told that they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them. Next Sunday we read Mark 6:30-34 and hear the apostles telling Jesus about their mission. Thus, these two Sunday Gospels form a diptych presenting us with the before and the after pictures of the mission.
Today’s Gospel speaks to me because it affirms my calling to the common life and to a common mission. The apostles were sent out in twos. They were not alone and were sent out together in order to support and help each other. Not only to live a common life but to share in a common mission. This mission of proclamation of the Good News and of healing is not their mission. It is “the Mission” of Jesus. They are not doing their ministry but the ministry of Jesus. It is a joy (and at times a challenge) to live and work with other Resurrectionists and I count many blessings to be living and working with my brothers.
This Gospel not only applies to me as a Religious but it applies to anyone who is a follower of Jesus. Regardless, of whether or not we are couples, single, widowed etc., each of us is called to live some form of life in community. That community will look different for each person but none the less we are not called to be islands on our own, but we are called to from mutually supportive relationships with one another. The same is true with regards to “our” mission. It is not “our” mission. Jesus is the one with The Mission and he has entrusted this mission of proclaiming the Good News and healing to his Church. As members of this living Body of Christ we are then called to participate in his mission. We are called to live and act as members of the Body of Christ. Perhaps this is why after next Sunday we will send the next 4 weeks on the Bread of Life Discourse? Perhaps the call is not only to reflect upon common life and mission but to reflect upon how to live my daily life as a living member of the Body of Christ?