Sent to Teach and Heal
The Gospel of Mark tells us today that Jesus sent out the Twelve. These twelve were selected from among Jesus’ disciples and named by Mark. The preparation for the mission of the Twelve is seen in the call of the first disciples to be fishers of men, then of the Twelve set apart to be with Jesus and to receive authority to preach and expel demons. Now they are given the specific mission to exercise that authority in word and power as representatives of Jesus during the time of their formation. Mark notes that these twelve are also called “apostles.” The word apostle means “one who is sent.” The number twelve is also a symbolic number, representing the twelve tribes of Israel. By naming twelve apostles, Jesus shows his mission to be in continuity with the mission of God’s people, Israel. Jesus’ instructions to the apostles are very specific. He repeats the mission that they are sent to preach and to share his authority to heal and to drive out demons. Jesus sends them in pairs, establishing his mission as a communal endeavour. Jesus also instructs them to travel lightly, without the customary food, money, and extra set of clothes. These instructions mean that the Twelve will be dependent on the hospitality of others, just as Jesus depended on others to provide for his needs.
Jesus continues to send us into the world as his disciples. But like the first disciples, we are not sent alone. Jesus has given us the community of the Church, which strengthens our life of discipleship. The Christian message can only authentically be proclaimed in and through the community of faith that is the Church. In our work with others, we build this community of faith and can invite others to share in it.