Wednesday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time
(Proverbs 30:5-9; Luke 9:1-6)
It was said that a Jesuit novice was once given a unique mission. According to the story, he was given a small sum of money and told to report to a Jesuit house in a faraway place. Evidently, he was expected to hitchhike across the country and, along friends made on the way, to rely on his own resources for a while. The story smacks of hyperbole, but it rings also of the gospel account in today’s mass.
Jesus sends his apostles out with nothing in their pockets “just in case.” Rather, they are to depend completely on Providence working through the townspeople they encounter. Of course, they will offer to the people release from demons, cures of diseases, and the good news of God’s kingdom, but these blessings are not meant as ways to finagle hospitality or to reward it. Rather, they represent God’s favor upon those who accept His grace. Indeed, Jesus indicates that some villagers will likely shut their doors in his apostles’ faces.
The dependency of the apostles upon Providence thrills our consciences like a bugle call. Today in our society most people, including church workers, strive to avert risks. The credit card has long served as a way never to be caught without money. With cellular telephones in emergencies help is only a few pushed buttons away. Other resources like generous insurance policies protect against catastrophes. Although these privileges are often defended as prudential, they may leave us with the disturbing question: What does it mean today to trust in God’s Providence if we are always avoiding risks?