Jesus called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics. He said to them, ‘Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.’ So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.
There are many ways to approach a text, just as there are many sides from which to approach an object. We could approach today’s reading as follows. What's an extra tunic for? It is for tomorrow. What is a bag for? It is for carrying things that I will need tomorrow. What is money for? It is for tomorrow’s food and shelter.
But “Now is the time,” Jesus said. To live intensely in the present is to be less worried about the future, and that enables us to be less preoccupied with possessions.
What we think of as the past is a memory trace. But the future isn't even that; it is a projection of the past, a projection of a memory trace. Past and future, like the moon, have no light of their own; any light they have is a reflection of the light and power of the Present.
We think of time as originating in the unimaginably distant past and flowing forward into the present and beyond us into the future. Could we not reverse that image? Time originates now, it wells up into existence in the present moment and flows away into the past. Time flows backwards! This moment is the Big Bang! Take nothing for the journey – because you have already arrived!
Another thought about this gospel reading. Many people are cheated of life by their love of money. Money is many things: it is your love of things, your escape from people, your security against death, your effort to control life…. People who can't love people start loving money. When anyone comes too close they want to push them away, in case they ask for money. People who love money become like things: dead, closed. For people who love people, money can be a means; but for people who love money, people are just a means. Love becomes a means, even prayer becomes a means: their prayer is for more money. They avoid being cheated by other people, but they cheat themselves more drastically than anyone could.
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