Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits. He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick– no food, no sack, no money in their belts. They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic. He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave. Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them.” So they went off and preached repentance. The Twelve drove out many demons, and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.
In today’s society independence and rugged individualism are commended. It is associated with a person who is resourceful, prepared, and has a good head on their shoulders. We yearn to be those who use rational self-interest for their own personal happiness, no matter the means. However in this reading, it is not what Jesus wanted. In fact it is the opposite. Jesus sent his disciples out into the world instructing them to carry minimal necessities. He was the anti-Boy Scout. In American culture, this unpreparedness, this putting oneself completely dependent on others would be considered lunacy. The person would be a free-loader or a welfare-queen.
I struggle with this. I like my piece of independence. It’s comfortable and unthreatening. But in order to fulfill what Jesus taught in this gospel, we need be open to those seeking this community. While we may be comfortable and not want to leave our bubble, there are others who are forced to leave theirs. We consider them outcasts and they are often marginalized. They are the poor, the homeless, and the alien. This is a call to be open and accepting of others’ vulnerability. But that is only part of the message. We, ourselves, must become vulnerable and reliant.
That dependency is key. Jesus did not want self-reliance. He wanted to build the kingdom of Heaven on earth. This kingdom was of unrelenting love‑ especially to the neighbor. By relying on others we are the most vulnerable, trusting, and open to love. We are building a community.