Thursday, February 1, 2018

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 sect that taught the dualism of matter and spirit.  What is spiritual, the Catharists believed, is necessarily good and what is material is evil.  Eating and drinking were a problem.  Even sex between married partners was to be avoided.  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 some common appeal. 

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 had a different tact in mind.  He would form a group of men who would beg for the food they ate.  They would go on foot – two by two -- to preach the gospel.  Actually much of Dominic’s program is based on today’s passage.  Jesus sends his disciples out with the same lack of resources – “no food, no sack, no money in their belts.”  However, they have spiritual power to cast out demons and to cure the sick.  Their effects, as we shall read in Saturday’s mass, are considerable. 

These stories challenge us to re-examine our lives.  They bid us to ask if our possessions might not send a counter-message to what we treasure most.  More than that, they urge us to reconsider our goals.  Do we just want to become wealthy?  Or do we find satisfaction in sharing the gospel?