For a full copy of the Newsletter for the Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary time please click on the link; Ordinary Time 15th Sunday 150718
This weekend we hear the story of the “Great Commissioning”, the sending out of the 12 apostles to proclaim the Good News. This story appears in Mark’s gospel, which we hear today but also in Luke’s and Matthews’s gospel. In all 3 accounts they are to take nothing with them except a staff or a sturdy walking stick but interestingly only in Mark’s version are they to wear sandals! In Matthew’s account of the “Great Commissioning” such footwear is forbidden and Luke does not mention sandals at all!
Why does Mark include sandals in his account of the “Great Commissioning”? Indeed, I wonder what sandals looked like in Jesus’ time? When I think of sandals today I immediately think of Franciscan monks and their sandals or people from the South who always seem to wear socks with their sandals! Even though they have good ventilation and are versatile the advent of good walking and running shoes means that sandals are not as popular as they once were.
When you hear today’s gospel the first thing that strikes you is the call to travel light – take no bread, no haversack, no coppers for your purse – you can’t even take a spare tunic! So in travelling light we are to focus on the task at hand, proclaiming the Good News, being heralds of the Kingdom of God, allowing God to work through our lives so that his mercy, compassion and forgiveness can be experienced and celebrated. The fear is that if we don’t travel light we will be distracted by what we carry, what we accumulate, what we are afraid to lose.
Perhaps the wearing of sandals highlights what it means to travel light because it allows the disciple to go further in the proclamation of the Gospel. Not to be afraid to step out off the beaten track and through our lives and faith, bear witness to the Good News. Sandals remind us that each step we take this week can be a moment of grace, an encounter with the holy, an opportunity of transformation and healing.
It is easier to take those steps in the service of the Gospel and the proclamation of the Good News if we are not weighed down by fear that somehow we will be missing out if we put our faith into action.
So this week, travel light, travel far, knowing that each step you take has the potential to be a moment of grace for you and those you encounter along your journey.
Fr Peter Brannelly