Counter-space has become a rare commodity at our place in recent weeks.
That’s because, ahead of a planned vacation, my wife has been loading up the island with all the stuff we’re looking to take with us in the carry-on bag(s).
I protest a bit, because I’m guessing that MY carry-on will bear the brunt of the weight. But I’ve also come to know that I object at my own risk: Gerri is an excellent provisioner. She thinks of things it would never occur to me to pack. And sure enough, when we’re away I typically find I actually NEED something that she’s had the foresight to tuck into our luggage.
So it looks like there’s some serious, heavy-weight schlepping in my future. And it’s a good thing we’re going on vacation, not a mission trip – because our pile of gear wouldn’t sit well with Jesus and his perspective on the necessities of life.
We hear about that in Sunday’s gospel: Luke tells us that Jesus has commissioned 72 disciples and is about to send them out in pairs to help him spread the Good News. The commission comes with a rather austere packing list:
Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals;
Nor does Jesus promise that good times await the travelers. Warning that he is sending them out ‘like sheep among wolves,’ he prepares his helpers for rejection:
Whatever town you enter and they do not receive you, go out into the streets and say, ‘The dust of your town that clings to our feet, even that we shake off against you.’
Heavy baggage, it would appear…even if you didn’t stuff a carry-on full of things you thought you were bound to need while on the road. Somehow, though, even in the paucity of possessions and the utter lack of affirmation, the disciples discover there’s still room for grace to manifest itself in their lives.
The seventy-two returned rejoicing, and said, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name.”
Jesus doesn’t seem surprised. Rather, he sees in them what he sees in us: the potential for joy that can only come when we let go of the unhealthy attachments in our lives.
…do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”
And his is a list, to be sure, that nobody wants to miss.
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.