At some time in the course of his public life, Jesus sent his chosen twelve on their first apostolic mission. Their task was twofold: to proclaim the Kingdom of God, and to heal. For this they were given power and authority: power to heal every disease and to cast out demons, and authority to announce the presence of the Reign of God, the messianic age. Did the twelve go off in pairs, or in a group, or one by one? We’re not told. However, to show their complete reliance on God, they take just the bare minimum for themselves on the journey: neither staff nor satchel, neither bread nor money, not even a cloak against the weather. Their trust in God was to be total. On arrival in a village, they were to select a place to stay and stay there only, not moving from house to house. The injunction about shaking the dust from their feet, as a warning to those who do not receive them, may be seen metaphorically. Before Jews entered the Temple in Jerusalem, they washed themselves clean of all foreign dust. So the apostles should enter the home of each believer as they would the Temple. In another text, they’d say, “Peace upon this house,” and their blessings would descend upon the family. We can’t help reflecting as we read this Gospel passage, how complete was their trust in God, and how bereft they were of all human resources! And the mission worked! By contrast today, our confidence in human techniques has all but displaced our trust in God. Our faith seems to be more in technology than in the power of prayer. Is this why we don’t succeed in our missions as much as we hope?
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