“Go on your way;
behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves.
Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; and greet no one along the way.”
That’s how the Lord sends the 72 out into the the world, completely unprepared for the rigors of a foot journey across the rough paths of the Middle East. They bring no food, extra clothes, or cash. They’re even told to dispense with the elaborate rituals of greeting people along the way, rituals which would have included food, drink, and stopping to rest for a while. He asks them simply and plainly to step out in faith and to go where they are being sent.
They are to carry nothing, not even resentment over being treated badly. Jesus instructs them to simply let go of offense, shake the dirt from their sandals, and move on. They are to leave everything into the hands of the Almighty God.
What a departure this is from the way we live today, where a two hour car ride to Grandma’s house has us packing the cars to the brim with food, “necessities”, and entertainment as though a simple trip is a major undertaking. It would never occur to most of us, with our modern sensibilities, to simply get up and go. How much harder then was it for the 72 who were sent? In an era where help wasn’t a cell phone call away, and dying from exposure to the harsh elements was a very real and nagging possibility, Jesus asks them to trust.
In the first reading, we are promised that “as a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you,” and in the Gospel to go out into the world as if we believe it.
My grandmother is fond of saying “You can pray or you can worry, but you can’t do both.” And so Jesus seems to have said to those whom he sent out. Pray, preach, evangelize, but don’t worry. Even the demons will do your bidding in my name.
In the end, of course, none of this matters at all. The things of this world are only of this world. What matters is whether or not our names are written in Heaven.