Thursday, February 01, 2007

Thursday in the 4th Week of Ordinary Time (I)
Arrival and Sending

Readings: Hebrews 12:18-19, 21-24; Psalms 48:2-3ab, 3cd-4, 9, 10-11; Mark 6:7-13

There’s quite clearly a great restlessness among and within us today. There’s a great yearning for something enduring in the midst of rapid change, for security in the midst of uncertainty, for a place of rest in the midst of constant motion. And many look to religion to fill this void. As baptized Christians, how do we deal with this experience? And what do we have to offer those who are searching?

Our readings help us to reflect on these questions by simultaneously presenting us with two images for our consideration. The first is that of an arrival. You have come to… the city of the living God… in which everyone is a ‘first-born son’ and a citizen of heaven… You have come to God himself… and to Jesus… Hearing these words, we may quite naturally think ahead to the End Times, the Final Judgment. But couldn’t these words just as well be a description of our current state as Christians? Aren’t we already baptized into the dying and rising of Christ? In Christ – the mediator who brings a new covenant and a blood for purification which pleads more insistently than Abel’s – aren’t we already co-heirs of the Father’s Kingdom? Isn’t this the awesome dignity that is already ours in Christ?

And yet, the gospel reminds us that our arrival is at once also a sending. Just as Jesus… summoned the Twelve and began to send them out in pairs… so too does he send us out, giving us authority over the unclean spirits that roam our world – unclean spirits such as greed and envy, discouragement and despair.

As Christians, isn’t this how we are called to negotiate the yearnings that we experience? Do we not arrive at our much longed for place of rest only in Christ, and only to the extent that we also continually allow ourselves to be sent? And isn’t this experience also that which we have to offer to those whose hungry hearts lead them to our doorstep? More than simply helping them to solve their problems, aren’t we called to offer them what we ourselves continue to receive: the joys and struggles of arriving in Christ by being sent?

How are we being invited to share with others our experience of arriving and being sent today?

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