Week 4 of Ordinary Time, Thursday – 6th February — Gospel: Mark 6,7-13
Simplicity for credibility
Jesus’ instructions regarding the apostles travelling kit may strike us as rather severe. The apostles are to take nothing with them other than the clothing on their backs, sandals on their feet, and a walking stick. A stick or a staff is a biblical symbol for authority (Ex 4,20; Mic 7,14). Their lack of a sack meant that they could not even accept provisions from others for the journey. Why is the poverty so important to their mission? Mark does not explain, but several reasons can be surmised. First, the apostles had to learn not to rely on their own resources but on God’s all-sufficient providence (2 Cor 9,8-10; Phil 4,11-13). Because they were occupying themselves with God’s work, God would occupy himself with their daily needs. Their simplicity of life, like that of John the Baptist (Mk 1,6), would help them to be free of distractions and focus wholly on their mission. Moreover, their need for food and shelter would call forth hospitality (Acts 16,15; Rom 12,13; 3 John 5-8). Finally, their lack of material possessions lent credibility of their message, since it demonstrated that they were preaching the gospel out of conviction rather than desire for gain (Acts 3,6).