Thursday, February 4, 2010

Thursday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

(I Kings 2:1-4.10-12; Mark 6:7-13)

St. Dominic founded the Order of Preachers as a response to a missionary necessity. Many people, especially in southern France, were attracted to Catharism, a religion that taught the dualism of matter and spirit. What is spiritual, the Catharists believed, is good and what is material is evil. Fine food, drink, even sex between married partners were eschewed. Truth and goodness were to be embraced. For all the abuse that people make of material things we can see how Catharist ideas would have appeal among simple people.

Monks galloping on horses from well-endowed estates had little success in checking the Catharist distortion. Their near betrayal of poverty seemed only to confirm what the dualists were teaching. Dominic dreamed of a different tact. He would form a group of men who would beg for the food they ate and go on foot – two by two -- to preach truth to the people. Actually much of Dominic’s program is based on today’s gospel. Jesus sends his disciples out with the same scarcity of physical resources – “no food, no sack, no money in their belts.” However, they go forth with spiritual power to cast out demons and to cure the sick. Their effect, as we shall read in Saturday’s mass, is considerable.

These stories challenge us to re-examine our lives. They make us ask if our possessions might not give a counter-message concerning what we treasure most. More than that, they urge us to seek spiritual values – truth, beauty, and goodness -- before material goods and to find satisfaction in doing the Lord’s work.