As we read the Gospel of St Mark every Sunday this year we are actually hearing what is probably the most authentic account of life and times of Jesus.
Today the author recalls that Jesus told his twelve closest disciples to leave the familiar territory of Galilee, because that was their home, and visit the small village communities in rural areas and visit the local households. These households would have been the social hubs along the road to Jerusalem.
What is interesting about St Mark’s story is what he says about Jesus’ instructions to his disciples. He doesn’t tell them to preach. He doesn’t ask them to be evangelists. He simply asks them to demonstrate, by example, how people can really discover God in their lives.
He told them not to carry a lot of baggage. He asks them to travel lightly. Don’t allow worries about money be a burden. Most importantly he asked them to be hospitable and to graciously accept hospitality. Jesus was proposing to his friends that if one travels lightly through life and gives and receives kindness to everyone one meets, you will get very close to an appreciation of God’s unconditional love and mercy.
The message for us is very simple. If our lives are sufficiently unburdened, and if we demonstrate kindness and hospitality from other people, we will get close to an experience of the true nature of God.
God travels with us lightly and gently. God’s kindness and mercy are always there if we let ourselves experience kindness and mercy.
St Mark’s theological message for us is that God is a God of hospitality – God stays with us when we stay with God. This message, according to St Mark, embodies everything God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit is all about. It’s a wonderful message.