“The way a man thinks in his heart is the way he acts.” (Venerable Fulton J. Sheen).
I have been reflecting on the Gospel passage from Saint Luke’s Gospel that describes Christ’s call to conversion (Luke 9:1-6).
“And He called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and He sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal. And He said to them, ‘Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics. And whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart. And wherever they do not receive you, when you leave that town shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them.’ And they departed and went through the villages, preaching the Gospel and healing everywhere.” (Luke 9:1-6).
There is much food for thought in this short passage of the Gospel.
You see, Christ – God the Son – in one way gave His apostles such GREAT power and in another made them as POWERLESS as newborn babes.
They were given the same miraculous powers as Christ Himself had demonstrated throughout His earthly life. They could cast out demons, cure disease and heal people. And yet – they went out into the world (and a world that was very physically dangerous for them at that time) and they did so with “nothing”… They had no staff, bag, bread, money or even a change of clothes. Effectively, those disciples went out into the world as naked as Christ was when He was Crucified.
Just as they resembled Him in His miraculous powers, so too did they resemble Him in His humble submission.
And it is this thought that consumes me on this day…
For it is one thing to think romantically or theoretically about leaving your home and walking out into the unknown empty handed, and quite another to do so.
You see, when I leave my house to run up to my local supermarket, which is five minutes away, just to buy a few groceries, I take a few things with me. Firstly, I wear freshly laundered clothes and comfortable shoes that I choose from out of the piles in my wardrobe. And also, I drive a car and I take some money, my mobile phone, my house keys, a water bottle, some shopping bags, and – of course due to COVID-19 – a facemask).
The apostles were not running down the street, five minutes from their homes. They were not stepping out for a second to grab a loaf of bread and a litre of milk. No. They were LEAVING HOME FOREVER to go to strange places and meet frightening people. They were leaving EVERYTHING and they took NOTHING with them…
That meant that when they were hot and sweaty from the road, they did not have even a towel to dry their bodies with or cover themselves with while they waited for their one tunic to dry. They did not have a brush for their hair. They did not have a pen or a paper to write a letter (having no bag to store it in). They did not even have a snack to eat along the way or food for their journey. They had no bottle of water to quench their thirst. When their shoes fell apart from too much walking, they would have no shoes in which to walk. They had not even money with which to buy something else…
Those men – those apostles – went out into the world without any means at all.
But the thing that I cannot ignore in this reflection, is that though they left with nothing, this does not mean that they did not have a towel or change of clothes or brush for their hair, or snacks or food or water or pencils when they needed them…
For God provided each of them with the means that they required to achieve His Holy Will, and He did so in a way that allowed them the opportunity to grow in HUMILITY – as He Himself in the Second Person of the Most Blessed Trinity – was perfectly humble…
Venerable Fulton J Sheen said, “The way a man thinks in his heart is the way he acts. It is never true that we do not have enough time to meditate. The less one thinks of God, the less time there will be for Him. The time one has for anything depends on how much we value it. Thinking determines the use of time; time does not rule over thinking! The problem of spirituality is never then, a question of time; it is a problem of thought. For it does not require much time to make us saints; it requires only much love.” (Venerable Fulton J Sheen).
And so, as I reflect on all the times that I have made excuses about what I am lacking so that I avoid doing the Will of God – I cry tears of repentance. For just as the Holy Spirit provided for the needs of the apostles and formed them through those means, so too does He provide for me and form me…
Saint Josemaría explained beautifully that we each of us have the means to be apostles of Christ. For our means “are the ones that Peter and Paul had, and Dominic and Francis, and Ignatius and Xavier: the Crucifix and the Gospel.”
And so, when I am tempted to make excuses about why I cannot do such or such a thing, I shall instead reflect on the example of my Blessed Mother, who stood in silence – with NOTHING – and listened as Her Beloved Son forgave His executioners.
For it is my dearest wish to be able to follow the example of the apostles and the Saints. And this means that I should repeat the words of Saint Josemaría, who said, “I'm sorry I can't give you any material help. I give you the best I have: a crucifix, a picture of Our Lady and my blessing.”
Because it is GOD who provides all our means… And ONLY God.
For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.