by Fr Ncamiso Vilakati
“Travel light with little or no provision”
At Diaconate ordination the Bishop asks a candidate if he is resolved to maintain and deepen a spirit of prayer appropriate to the life he chooses and, in keeping with what is required, to celebrate faithfully the Liturgy of the Hours for the Church and for the whole world. After he has answered YES to all that he has been asked, the Bishop presents him the Book of the Gospels and placing it in his hands saying: “Receive the Gospel of Christ, whose herald you now are. Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach”. This is a beginning of a journey where the ordained will be a collaborator of the Bishop in the conveyance of Word of God. It is advisable and wise of him to travel light with little or no provision at all but the Lord himself.
The Gospel this Sunday (Mark 6: 7-13); shows us Jesus sharing His mission to announce the Gospel with the Twelve. This is so that the announcement can bear fruit, which dictates the precise conditions that evangelisation concerns sobriety especially in the way we present ourselves to others. The Word which is Christ is the only wealth for those sent out two by two to proclaim it. The choice to send them two by two, is to the effect that although sent as individuals, the Word is relational, and collegiality is an essential part. This choice by Jesus is to present the Word first as a relationship, an encounter between God and humanity. Hence the need to share together the journey even with “fools” and to be convinced of not being alone in life. For this reason, a good and true witness of the Gospel is one who knows how to create a relationship based on an authentic lifestyle. The power of the Word rests upon the one who send who wants us to be humble in order to propagate His mission with those we deem inferior.
We see the same scenario in the first reading (Amos 7: 12-15). As a shepherd and farmer in a village near Jerusalem, Amos, after being called by God, leaves everything to go to Bethel. This is a home to an ancient and famous shrine, where through God’s worth, he is to proclaim repentance and moral reform of the Israelites. The prophetic announcement of Amos revolves around the serious injustices that are done to the detriment of the weakest. The wealth and resources enjoyed by the few are built to the detriment of many. As an awkward character, Amos is to be expelled from the Northern Kingdom because his preaching propagates travelling light with little or no provision. He demonstrates the fact that the one ordained is to announce God with his life of simplicity a sign of contradiction, capable of breaking the patterns and balances of the strong.
The letter to the Ephesians (Ephesians 1: 3-14), opens with a solemn hymn of blessing that praises God the Father for having manifested in the Son Jesus the love to which all are called. Every person becomes a child in the Son and, thanks to the death and resurrection of Christ. Through total surrender of caring less baggage, everyone is offered the possibility of redemption through the forgiveness of sins and the promise of eternal life in the heavens. One becomes part of God’s eternal plan: listening to the Gospel, choice of faith, acceptance of the Holy Spirit that confirms and authenticates belonging to Christ. These are steps that each of us has begun to know and live in baptism. From that day on we are called to make of our life a perennial praise to the love of God.
When we “travel light” with little or no provision, the “poverty of spirit” frees us from greed and preoccupation with our possessions and makes ample room for God. As ordained ministers being called to propagate the Word, we travel light in order not to be prejudiced, judgemental on the flock one is sent to. The Lord as he has made all the faithful to be heralds of his Word, wants his disciples who are the baptised to be dependent on Him and not on themselves. This Sunday, God says He is willing to work through me and you but not for ourselves but for His glory. He has given us the spiritual authority and power of which He wishes me and you to exercise on his behalf. The Lord entrusts us with his gifts and talents so that we may endure the hard journey of evangelising our children, parents and even relatives who have resorted to egotism and all sorts of traces of self-centredness. Like the prophet Amos He sends all the baptised to proclaim repentance and moral reform to Swazis (Swati). How ironic that the very prophetic announcement of Amos revolves around the serious injustices that are done to the detriment of the weakest are the very same that Swaziland (eSwatini) is suffering. The Lord in our travelling sends us two by two, to remind ourselves that we are at His service, so that whatever he bids us, we become witness of His truth and saving power. Like Amos we must not be afraid to whomever he sends us.
After the reception of the Eucharist, Jesus like his apostle will give you the power and the authority to speak and to act in His name. He will command me and you again to do the works which He did, by healing the sick, to cast out evil spirits, which is the gist of the good news of the gospel. He will not leave us by ourselves but the power and authority He talks about is that of self-sacrificing love and humility. The “world” and the “flesh” seek power for selfish gain but on the contrary Jesus teaches us to use it for the good of our neighbour.
At the end of the Eucharistic celebration, filled with the Holy Spirt, the priest like Jesus will give you a command. Go forth the Mass is ended, Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord, or Go in Peace, glorifying the Lord by your life. Please remember like the Deacon who has “Received the Gospel of Christ, whose herald he now is. Believe what you have read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach”. Ask the Lord Jesus, to make you a channel of His healing power and merciful love that others may find abundant life and freedom in you. Ask him to assist you to be free from all other attachment so joyfully pursue the treasure of our heavenly kingdom. May you witness the joy of the Gospel both in word and deed”. Remember “ “Travel light with little or no provision”.