Jesus said to the Twelve: “As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, drive out demons. Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give. Do not take gold or silver or copper for your belts; no sack for the journey, or a second tunic, or sandals, or walking stick. The laborer deserves his keep. Whatever town or village you enter, look for a worthy person in it, and stay there until you leave. As you enter a house, wish it peace. If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; if not, let your peace return to you.
Jesus sends his Apostles out to proclaim the Good News and to perform a lot of miracles while they’re at it. He tells them to do it without any expectations of payment, while relying completely on the generosity of those who house them (presumably fellow disciples of Jesus). This is a very particular call from the Lord for these twelve Apostles, though it comes in the midst of a very general call each Christian receives. Both are listed in the Gospel passage.
The general call: Go and proclaim, “The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Yes, every disciple of Jesus Christ is sent on this same mission. Yet not all Christians feel as though they are on any sort of mission, nor do they know of any way to spread the Good News. Even worse, most Christians often forget that they, too, are meant to play a part in the evangelization of the world. Even the best of Christians will have a frequent lapse in memory and forget the call of Jesus. How can we help ourselves remember? The answer to that question lies in the particular call of Jesus to his Apostles.
The particular call of Jesus to the Apostles in this passage: as you go, carry nothing, demand nothing, expect nothing.
For most people, this call is not something to imitate. We NEED certain things: clothing, a toothbrush, shoes, money, food, etc. Parents NEED money to support their families. It seems just about everyone NEEDS a cell phone and a car. These are real needs. The list can go on and on. It can seem like this particular call doesn’t apply to me, and, thus, neither does the general call. After all, I can barely get to work or class on time, let alone go on some far away mission to spread the Gospel.
BUT there’s an even deeper message beneath the particular call: live in such a way that will always remind you that you are away from your true Home (read: Heaven) and ALWAYS on mission for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven. Everything you do is for the glory of the Father and can help lead souls to salvation!
Jumble all of that together and we get: Live a simple life, free of excess, so you can remember your mission. Living a simple life will make life much less convenient, because it will mean leaving behind the proverbial walking stick and second tunic. Those inconveniences, however pesky they are, will remind us that we are not yet Home. They also remind us that God’s grace is all we need to find joy in the world. What does a simple life look like? Well, just like the Apostles had a particular call from the Lord, so does each Christian. Simplicity might be different for me than it is for you. Still, we must listen to the Lord in order to discover our own particular call, so that we may always be mindful of our mission to proclaim the Gospel. This requires spending time in prayer, listening for the voice of the Holy Spirit, who will assist you. It also requires attempting various ways of approaching simplicity of life, appropriate to your state of life. Perhaps, though, the biggest thing about the simple life is deciphering between what I NEED and what I WANT. The things I tend to want rather than need are the things that also tend to distract me from my relationship with Jesus Christ. If that’s the case, it would be in my best interest to leave them behind forever, however difficult that may be.
Finally, talking about simplicity of life is pretty easy to do. Actually living a simple life is much more than simple. It’s a life-long struggle and always demands reflection and honesty with myself. It’s often best to talk with fellow disciples of Jesus when considering making a big change in my pattern of life, such as leaving behind that walking stick. Finding some sort of accountability crew to keep me on the path I know I NEED to walk is helpful both for building up the Kingdom of heaven and for creating an encouraging environment for living a simple life.