This is the apostles first go at going out at being disciples. Jesus has been warming them and working with them for three years. Then revealing Himself to them. Working miracles in their presence, healing people, raising the dead, and now at this point, He sends them off two by two. There are three things that I want to reflect on with this gospel today because Mark is a little different than Matthew and Luke in terms of how this is presented. The details are important because they go off two by two, and secondly, in the other gospels, they take nothing with them, but Mark says that they take a staff with them, and they are also supposed to wear their sandals on their feet. I will talk about each of them briefly that they went off two by two, that they took a staff, and they wore sandals on their feet.
The first is that Jesus summoned them together. He summoned the twelve brings all of them towards Him. You are here this Sunday because you have been summoned. God has called you and brought you here, and you have responded. He may have summoned you in different ways. Some of you are here because Sunday is a day of obligation in which we come to Mass, and we honor The Lord today by coming to the Eucharist. Some of you are here because you know it is one of the Fifth Precepts of the church to attend Mass on Sundays. Some of you are here because your spouse dragged you or your parents dragged you. However, that happened; whatever brought you here together for Mass today, God summoned you. He brought you to Himself. And, during this time, just as He did with the disciples during this hour of Mass, He is forming us, and He is shaping us, and He is speaking to us, and He is revealing Himself to us. Keep your eyes open because God wants to show you something. He has summoned you together.
Then we hear that after He summons them, He sends them out. So, He calls the twelve and then sends them out in pairs of two. Remember, there were twelve apostles, so somebody got stuck with Judas. I would hate to be that guy, but somebody got stuck with Judas. He sends them out two by two to go out into the world. There is something about that. Every single detail in scripture is there for a reason. So, why two by two? Why does He send them out in pairs? Why do they not go out alone? He sent them out in twos because there is something very powerful that happens when we gather together, “where two or three are gathered in His name.” Jesus says, “Where two or three are gathered in My name, I am present among them.” So, if they go out with the apostles, the disciples go out together in pairs. There are a couple of reasons for this. If we are together and join together in the sign of the cross, Christ is present with us. Another reason is for something in a trial back then; for them to testify at a trial, there had to be at least two witnesses. So, two people had to see something for it to be valid. They are going out into the world, and they are going to work miracles. They will heal the sick; they will raise the dead; they are going to drive out demons, so there must be two sets of eyes there. That somebody sees while another is happening. It is also pretty nice to think that you are not crazy. If somebody sees this miracle and says, “Wow, that was amazing. Did you notice that?” It is good to have someone else witness what is happening. It is also good to have encouragement because you will see Jesus says, “Go to whatever house you want,” and you might be rejected. It is kind of nice to have somebody to talk to when you go through rejection.
I want you to think about that in your life. Who is your spiritual friend? Who is your spiritual partner that God has given you to evangelize the world? Some of you are married, and hopefully, that is your partner right there, that friend. That is the idea that as a married couple, you minister together. Not only do you go pray with somebody, but you bring your spouse with you. But I understand that not all marriages have people on the same level. Sometimes you have someone that is really, really in the faith, and sometimes you have somebody that is not. If that is the case, it is good to have, if you are a woman, to have another woman friend who is at the same level as you and the same journey as you. Same for the guys if you have a guy friend who is leading the spiritual life with you. For the rest of us who are single, we can count on somebody that we can count on. Maybe you have tried, or you have prayed for somebody. You have prayed over somebody, and you find that the miracle did not happen for some reason. I would invite you to remember two. You need two people, so call somebody else, bring somebody else with you and pray over that person. Pray together because God is present where two or three are gathered in His name. That is the first thing. Think about who your spiritual partner is. Who is your spiritual friend that God has given you to journey with you and encourage you and witness the miracle you are called to live?
The second thing is that they are supposed to carry a staff. Why are they carrying a staff? The only time we see staff in the liturgy is when the bishop is here (unless Father Paul has to use a cane), but otherwise, the bishop will have a staff. A staff is a sign of authority. So, the second thing is the disciples are supposed to carry a staff to remind them that they have the authority over unclean spirits. They have authority over demons. They have the authority to heal the sick. They have the authority to do everything that Christ did. That will happen in Baptism to this child. In Baptism, you are given that authority as priest, prophet, and king.
Third and finally are the sandals. I was thinking, why did He say sandals? Bring your sandals with you, guys. Do not go barefoot. What is the point of sandals? I did not realize until praying with it and reading over it that the whole point of the sandals was to keep them somewhat apart from the dirt but also when they went to a place, and they were not accepted, they were supposed to shake the dust from their feet. Clean off their sandals and move on. All of us are supposed to do that as well. We are supposed to bring the Good News to people, right? We are supposed to evangelize, share our faith, and we will not always be accepted. Sometimes, when it is not accepted, we can feel rejected, especially when someone close to us, like your spouse, your children, your families, or your neighbors. We can feel a sense of rejection. But Jesus says very clearly, “Shake the dust off of your feet and testimony against them. What that kind of translates in the modern language does not get caught up in the negativity for many of us. Do not take the bait when someone wants to take you down the negative path. Do not follow anything that is not of God or brings hope, or joy, or love. You are called to be a joyful person. Do not let anybody ruin that; if somebody does ruin that, do not let it ruin the rest of your day. Please do not bring it home to your families; do not bring it to work. Shake the dust off your feet. Just let it go. Please get rid of it and then go on and encounter the next person you encounter.
As you have been summoned here today, He now sends you forth into the world, and those three things are very important that we have. We have a spiritual friend, somebody you can walk with. You know that you are carrying the authority of Jesus that has been given to you at Baptism that you too can do miracles, heal the sick, drive out demons. “You can do all things and more,” Jesus said finally; if it is not working out, shake the dust from your feet. Move on to another place; move on to a different person and really allow yourself never to lose the joy that was given to you at Baptism.
Again, every time we get together in the Mass, let yourself be summoned and realize that we are to go out into the world two by two and share the faith.