Jesus called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. He said to them, "Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money – not even an extra tunic. Whatever house you enter, stay there, and leave from there. Wherever they do not welcome you, as you are leaving that town shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them." They departed and went through the villages, bringing the good news and curing diseases everywhere.
St John Chrysostom wrote: “Christ had the power to set the human race free from all evils—not only the Romans but also... every race of barbarians. He succeeded in doing this with no force of arms, nor expenditure of money, nor by starting wars of conquest, nor by inflaming men to battle. He had only eleven men to start with, men who were undistinguished, without learning, ill-informed, destitute, poorly clad, without weapons, or sandals, men who had but a single tunic to wear.”
Mahatma Gandhi was deeply impressed by Christ, but not by Christians. In the famous pictures of his visit to London in 1931 he appeared perhaps like one of those barefooted twelve. St Ambrose quoted Isaiah 52:7, “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger who announces peace,” and remarked that there was no mention of beautiful sandals.
On a train journey I was seated beside a man who had brought an enormous suitcase with him. This suitcase, he told me, contained all the things he might need during his day away from home: an umbrella in case it rained, and sun-cream, in case the sun came out – along with dozens of other items, no doubt, to cover every kind of weather and every eventuality. This suitcase was so big that it would not fit in the compartment and he had to have it put in the goods carriage. This was of course at the end of the train, at a great distance from our carriage, but he insisted (with complicated reasoning) on not moving closer. During the journey he talked about the deficiencies of the transport system and how complicated everything was made for the ordinary passenger. So involved did he become in this subject, with recitation of past experiences, that he missed his stop and found himself parted from his suitcase, which had been removed from the train at the correct stop. His panic knew no bounds. As the train pulled out again, I could see him on the platform, with flushed face, shouting, waving his arms. He had just that moment discovered what it was like to "take nothing for the journey," but it could be a long time before he learns to enjoy it.
|Back to calendar|