September 13 – Wednesday of the Fifteenth Week after Pentecost Mark 6:7-13
What About Me? Mark 6:7-13, especially vs. 7: “And He called the twelve to Himself, and began to send them out two by two, and gave them power over unclean spirits.” Let us take note of the nature and scope of this verse’s message, for it is issued to all the faithful. The Lord calls us, His disciples, to Himself. He sends us out in teams, and He gives us power over unclean spirits.
Conversely, if we are not called by the Lord, and do not team up with others who belong to Him, we do not receive power over unclean spirits. So much for independent operators! What is most important for us to grasp, as members of the team we call the Church, is that each and every disciple is called to the same apostolic task. To answer the Lord’s call, however, entails certain requirements.
Our response to Christ depends on our understanding that the Lord calls on all of us within the Church (much as He sends the Twelve forth here) to proclaim “that people should repent” (vs. 12). Even inexperienced disciples – as the twelve are at this point in time in their relationship to Christ – should not imagine that the Lord’s call is restricted to the clergy, or to missionaries and laypeople with specific “religious” assignments or positions. Having united ourselves to Christ at baptism, we are united to the Lord’s basic purpose. Christ requires each of us to accept this call.
There are disclaimers, however, so read on. Perhaps we have seen someone walking the streets with a signboard that declares, “Repent.” Numerous cartoons have caricatured this particular display. Odd as such an approach may seem, such public declarations represent a genuine effort to obey Christ’s most basic assignment to His disciples. Does this include us? Yes, although fortunately we are not required to parade with a signboard!
If we wish to complete our assignment, we should note the list of things we will not need as part of our apostolic training program, or journey: food, money, even extra clothes (vss. 8-9). None of these are necessary as we seek to carry out the Lord’s apostolic task. As we go from place to place, our preaching “that people should repent” (vs. 12) may be rejected. Indeed, some “will not receive you nor hear you” (vs. 11). In such cases, “when you depart shake off the dust under your feet as a testimony against them” The Lord will deal with those who avoid Him in another way.
Note that we have been labeling our task as “apostolic.” This term does not merely refer to the work of the Twelve, nor to their present-day successors, the bishops. An apostle is simply a person sent to deliver a message from a higher authority. The apostolic work thus belongs to each one sent by Christ; it entails the godly efforts of every disciple.
Our Lord specifically sends His servants to preach, also translated as “proclaim.” However, pulpit oratory is not required of every disciple. What, then, does the Lord expect of His servants?
This Gospel passage suggests that we disciples proclaim Christ out of our personal experience. Clearly, there is a semantic link between verse 7 and the actions in verses 12 and 13. Christ conveys to His disciples the ability to cast out demons and heal the sick by anointing them with oil. Holy oil from icon lamps and other sources may be used by laypeople to anoint the sick, in the firm expectation that God heals many forms of sickness: physical, emotional, spiritual, and interpersonal. This proved to be the case even before the Church came into being, and continues to this day.
We can trace a line from the Forerunner through Christ to His commissioned disciples (vs. 7). Every disciple of the Lord is authorized to express trust in the Lord by anointing and praying with the sick, whether they are believers or not. The disciple’s faith and love for the Lord bears on the results, and the recipient’s openness is also effective. May Christ our God help each of us risk expressing our faith on behalf of others!
Be mindful, O Lord of the sick, the suffering, the sorrowing, the afflicted, captives, and the poor.