Wednesday July 10th: The Call of the Apostles
July 10, 2024
Climate change a factor in earlier, stronger storms
July 10, 2024

Timeless model for Mission

The Gospel for this Sunday (Mark 6:7–13) recounts Jesus sending out the Twelve Apostles on their first missionary journey.

This passage provides a powerful model for evangelisation and mission in the contemporary world, offering insights that remain relevant despite the vast changes in society since the time of Christ.

Jesus sends the disciples out in pairs, instructing them to take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money. This emphasises the importance of simplicity, trust in divine providence, and detachment from material possessions in the work of evangelisation.

Pope Francis, in his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (2013), echoes this sentiment: “An evangelizer must never look like someone who has just come back from a funeral! Let us recover and deepen our enthusiasm, that ‘delightful and comforting joy of evangelizing’, even when it is in tears that we must sow” (EG 10).

The Pope’s words remind us that, like the Apostles, modern missionaries must approach their task with joy and enthusiasm, unburdened by excessive material concerns.

Jesus’ instruction to stay in one house until leaving that town underscores the importance of building relationships and community in evangelisation. This aligns with Pope Benedict XVI’s emphasis on the relational aspect of faith in his encyclical Deus Caritas Est (2005): “Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction” (DCE 1).

In today’s digital age, where human connections are often superficial, this call to deep, personal encounter in evangelisation is more crucial than ever.

The Apostles’ mission to preach repentance, cast out demons, and heal the sick illustrates the holistic nature of Christian mission. It’s not merely about proclaiming a message but about transforming lives and addressing human suffering in all its forms.

Pope St John Paul II, in his encyclical Redemptoris Missio (1990), emphasised this comprehensive approach: “The Church’s mission affects and engages all of man’s life. As she carries out this mission, the Church comes up against man in the full truth of his existence, personal and social” (RM 4).

This holistic view of mission calls us to engage with the world’s pressing issues—like poverty, injustice, environmental degradation—as integral parts of evangelisation.

The instruction to shake the dust off their feet when rejected reminds us that while we are called to proclaim the Gospel, we cannot force its acceptance. Our message of conversion will be rejected outright by not some, but many. But this teaches humility and respect for human freedom in our missionary efforts.

Pope Paul VI, in his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi (1975), reflected on this challenge: “The Church respects and esteems these non-Christian religions because they are the living expression of the soul of vast groups of people… They carry within them the echo of thousands of years of searching for God” (EN 53).

This perspective encourages dialogue and respect in our interactions with those of different faiths, or the growing cadre of people who profess no faith, while still maintaining the urgency of our evangelical mission.

This Sunday’s Gospel then provides a timeless model for Christian mission that resonates with contemporary papal and Church teachings.

As we navigate the complexities of the modern world, this biblical passage offers a compelling vision for sharing the Gospel in ways that are both faithful to Christ’s command yet responsive to the needs and realities of our time.