Free to Serve

A reflection on the Gospel reading for the fourth Thursday in Ordinary Time (Mark 6:7-13) by Mother Maria-Michael Newe, OSB

The 94-year-old hands of our Sister Augustina, who was a beautiful example of someone always ready to serve

Today in the Gospel reading, Jesus summoned the twelve apostles and sent them out two by two, giving them authority to drive out unclean spirits. When He describes what they should take with them, notice that it is very little. Basically He told them not to bring anything extra: not a second tunic, and no more than sandals they were wearing on their feet. They had everything that was needed for their immediate use, and not more. It seems that the point was to have no distractions from the things they were carrying with them. This is certainly part of the monastic life: not to have so much that it’s a distraction. We have distractions all the time (even without lots of possessions), so keeping things simple minimizes the distractions so we’re not worrying about “stuff.” Plus, the more you have, the more you have to clean!

We also hear that Jesus warns the apostles that they will not be welcomed everywhere they go. That doesn’t seem to distress them. Christ tells them to shake the dust off their feet and walk right on. In the same way, don’t be stressed about the blocks that come in front of you. God doesn’t suggest that we stare at them until we understand them, or tear them apart until we see the seed of everything. Kick the dust off your feet and walk right on. Don’t let things hinder you from your vocation.  Be free to do His will. Freely. That is what a true spouse does—freely serves.

There’s a prayer I like to pray, and here’s just a part of it: “To carry my cross after Him all the days of my life, and to be more faithful to Him than I have ever been before.” It has a touch of a wedding vow. That’s a beautiful way to begin each day. Regardless of yesterday, I have today to live for Him.

Is He not the most beautiful in your life?  That perception of Him is what will motivate you to live faithfully. Your eyes shouldn’t want to land on anybody else. He is enough. But that takes a lot of practice, a lot of perseverance, and a lot of forgiveness, because we’re human and we’re going to mess up once in a while. But that doesn’t mean we can’t do it. With the desire to be faithful, there is also the grace to persevere. And we should just be excited that that’s what we have been called to do.