This week 800 people: priests, married and single were sent two by two to all the dioceses of the US to announce the Gospel as St. Mark tells us (Mk. 6:7-13). I was sent in 2008 to Sacramento, CA. God took good care of me and a seminarian and I were shown hospitality at the beautiful Cathedral of Sacramento. We stayed there for a week since a laborer deserves his wages, and it was fantastic. We spent the week visiting as many pastors and priests as we could. We had no phone or money or credit card and only our return bus ticket home. On our return to hear what happened to hundreds of ‘apostles’ over a week gave us a broad and deep overview of the Church that many do not have.
It is important for some members of the church to re-live what the apostles experienced when Jesus sent them two by two. Many times it was the priests that rejected people more than lay people. So if two people come knocking at your door this week give them at least a cup of water, and maybe a hot dog or a place to stay. They are angels in disguise and God is sending them to you with a message. God is sending them to give you something very precious, not to demand from you anything. When God calls us he always gives us something completely unexpected. He does not take anything away. He does this every time he calls you. And this is not only once in a lifetime.
Jesus calls the apostles to himself before he sends them out, and so they are chosen especially by him; he elects them to go forth in his name. To announce the Gospel they must be naked, poor, stripped of all that they own. They need to be poor to announce the riches of the King, and He is their only source of nourishment. This has always been true in the history of the Church. We can see this in St. Francis and in St. Dominic. People at the time (12th century) didn’t listen to the priests since they were so worldly. Only when Francis and later Dominic went out with nothing but the clothes on their back did the people listen to the preaching. Pope Francis is calling us back to the simplicity of the Gospel, perhaps for this reason: so that people will hear the voice of God through you and me.
God has always sent someone in my life to help me and to let me see God’s will for me. And during this week he does so for many, many people in a more dramatic and personal way, by sending hundreds of people out to go door to door, and making themselves vulnerable for the Lord.
In St. Matthew’s Gospel they are told to find someone trustworthy, or you could say ready, and to stay with them. And if the house deserves it your peace will enter this place. By the way a person responds will show if they are worthy of the messenger. It is a test, not of those sent but of those who receive—or don’t receive—the message. To be worthy means to hear the Good News and ready to act upon it. As a pastor often people are attentive to the message but few act on it. If they did the parishes would be very different.
Jesus says that the apostle is called to stay with the person who receives him. He does not say to stay in his house, but with the person, within the person. He is not speaking of physicality. It is Christ who comes to visit you in the guise of two people and I pray that He will be welcomed, often.
Let us pray for these people who will go out, and those they will visit, and the many that will receive them.