Earlier this week, Pope Francis celebrated an open air mass in Ecuador and discussed a vision for evangelization in his homily. As part of the reflection, he tells us God says:
“Look, I am at the door and I am calling; do you want to open the door?” He does not use force, he does not break the lock, he knocks gently on the door and then waits. This is our God!
We may imagine the first Apostles approaching homes they visited in this way as well. As we hear in the Gospel this week, Jesus sends them out in pairs to spread the Gospel message by traveling village to village and staying with the locals in each place they stop. Jesus instructed them to stay in the home which welcomes them in. One set of biblical footnotes tell us that this was a way that the Apostles could be less focused on their personal comforts and more focused on their mission- they could have jumped from home to home in the same town to find a better stay, but they did not.
These first Missionary Apostles were sent out directly from the direction of Jesus. These are the first ones in Mark’s Gospel who are given the power to heal and to teach in the name of Jesus. One would have to consider why Jesus would pick this time to send the Apostles out. Perhaps he thought it would be helpful for those in the surrounding areas to hear a different voice, maybe he knew the great opportunities that were out there if they spread their forces, or, most likely, he wanted them to begin to work this important mission while he was still present with them.
Jesus’ actions in this passage can teach us a little bit about his leadership characteristics. From day one of calling Peter and Andrew promising to make them “fishers of men,” Jesus was not only spreading his message of faith on his own, but was also forming the Apostles to carry on his own mission after him. At this point, he must have thought they were ready to go off on their own. As we will hear next week, they do come back together a basically work through a de-brief of their work... much like an organization may do after a project is completed.
This passage can serve as a motivation to us. Jesus calls all of us to set out on a mission to spread the Gospel message to all we meet. In order to do our part though, we have to allow him to enter our lives and stay with us in our homes. As our Holy Father reminds us, God will wait for us to let him in… we must do the same for others.