The disciples were asked to go in pairs. Jesus did not want them to rely on themselves.They worked in pairs so they could mutually help one another and because two represented a community. They received authority over unclean spirits, to help others who were suffering and to open the door for others to experience the love of God. The twelve were to announce the Good News of God to the people, preaching a call to repentance, be catalysts for change among the people and yield conversions. They were exhorted to invite people into their community: to know God, to love, serve and to follow God. (Sound familiar?) It is through the genuineness of the apostles’ witness that other people's hearts were turned. It is their willingness to become vulnerable in the simple act of truly believing in the Lord, that people’s doubts were extinguished, causing them to turn their hearts, to believe and accept Jesus’ teachings. In the end, those influenced by them would in turn influence others.
Jesus also said, “Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them” (Mark 6:11). He said this because He knew that some people might not yet be ready for the Gospel. Similarly, this was also emphasized in the first reading when Amos was instructed never again to prophesy in Bethel. Jesus knows that in the course of our mission to proclaim the Kingdom of God, we may encounter some resistance, some unfriendly territories. We are cautioned not to let this deter us, but simply to “shake the dust off our feet” (Mk 6:11) and move on. Amos and the twelve apostles were persistent in their teaching, undeterred by the lack of human comforts, security and safety. They were focused and faithful, allowing the grace of God to work mightily in their lives.
Tonight’s readings invite each and every one of us to reflect on our own participation in Jesus’ mission. What is our role in it? What have we done or are doing that would further the great mission that has been appointed to us? We are challenged to envision our lives as an integral part of the Church, bringing Life to people and making present the reign of God in our world. Like the early apostles, we are to engage and confront the evil of our world with the energizing power of Jesus. Our job is to till the soil and make it fertile, that the Holy Spirit might work through people's lives and cause the seeds of faith to grow. We are to trust that the Lord will equip us with the right words, the right actions, the right circumstances. Perhaps at times, we might feel a bit like Amos, ill-equipped for the task at hand. Yet, trusting in the Lord’s promise that “The Lord Himself will give His benefits; our land shall yield its increase. Justice shall walk before Him and prepare the way of His steps” (Ps 85:13-14), we are encouraged. Holding on to this promise, let us forge on. With open spirits, being truly “bukas loob” let us fulfill our mission, and tell the world of His love!