The text this morning from the Gospel of Mark speaks of both the sending out of the Twelve by Christ to proclaim the reign of God and the inevitable opposition that comes from that very message. He calls them to a posture of total dependance upon God and upon those who are receptive to the proclamation of the disciples. Hospitality is to be received, and if withheld, the disciples were to move on, to “shake the dust off their feet” and continue with their mission.
This text serves both to disorient and to warn us. It is disorienting because we typically prepare for our “mission,” for our “going” with preparation which will in turn require little or no hospitality or sacrifice from those we are engaging. It also serves to disorient us because we shy away from encounters for which we are woefully unprepared and where must rely solely on the provision of God.
It warns us that we ought to listen closely to the content of our message and of our lives if we find that opposition is weak or nonexistent. We ought to pay attention if we never have to “dust off our feet”. Is it possible then that our message has been compromised? Is it possible that our message is no longer the proclamation of the in-breaking reign of God?
We are called to become the kind of people that “hunger and thirst for righteousness”, who are “peacemakers”, and “those who mourn” for the state of the world.
This posture, this life that confronts, is described well by Pope Benedict in a reflection on the Beatitude, “Blessed are those who mourn…” He reflects:
The mourning of which the Lord speaks is nonconformity with evil; it is a way of resisting models of behavior that the individual is pressured to accept because “everyone does it.” The world cannot tolerate this kind of resistance; it demands conformity. It considers this mourning to be an accusation directed against the numbing of consciences. And so it is. That is why those who mourn suffer persecution for the sake of righteousness. Those who mourn are promised comfort; those who are persecuted are promised the Kingdom of God—the same promise that is made to the poor in spirit. The two promises are closely related. The Kingdom of God—standing under the protection of God’s power, secure in his love—that is true comfort.
And so we come to the Table this morning as an act of resistance. As a proclamation that the way things are in the world is not as it should be. As a demonstration of the transformative power of God in a broken and painful world. As a testimony that God has reconciled us to one another, and in that reconciliation has brought us to himself. And now, together, as one new humanity, we serve as agents of reconciliation and redemption, as ambassadors of a coming Kingdom and a returning King, of faith, hope, and love.
Come to the Table.