In the gospels read at Mass this week, from the 10th chapter of Matthew, Jesus sends the Twelve on a mission. They have a restricted mission: “Jesus summoned his Twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out and to cure every disease and every illness.” (Matthew 10, 1)
They have authority over unclean spirits and can cure every kind of disease, important gifts, but they haven’t received power to teach yet. That will come after Jesus’ resurrection.They’re also told not to go into pagan territory or Samaritan towns. but to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
They’re on a restricted mission.
The evangelists differ. In Luke’s gospel, read last Sunday, Jesus not only sends the twelve, but seventy two others. No restrictions are given them. Go to every town and place I intend to visit, Jesus says to them.
In both gospels, the disciples are told to have no walking stick, no traveling bag, no sandals.. They’re not promised economic security or assurance they’ll be received well and their mission will be successful.
Ministry will never be easy, under any circumstances. It will always be “as lambs among wolves.” Ministry changes as times and circumstances change, but whatever the time and circumstances, we’re sent.
What are we called to do today? Something must be done today, something we don’t see. “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” And Jesus repeatedly says, “Don’t be afraid to do it.”