Saint for the day Vincent de Paul (1580 – September 27, 1660)
Ezra 9:5-9 – Tobit 13:2 … 7-8 – Luke 9:1-6
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me and sent me to preach the good news to the poor, to heal the broken hearted and clothe the naked.”
The above verse – today’s entrance antiphon – is the perfect scripture verse for today’s saint who’s name is synonymous with so much of the Gospel of Luke which we are hearing in these day. I even took it a tad further by adding, “and clothe the naked.” Who hasn’t about the Saint Vincent de Paul Society who’s entire ministry is to clothe the poor and needy?
Jesus said to the disciples, “Take nothing for the journey, neither walking stick, nor sack, nor food, nor money, and let no one take a second tunic.”(today’s Gospel)
Most of us are pretty selective about how we “hear” the scripture passages that are presented to us in our daily liturgies. We often land on what we take to be the most outrageous part and forget the context of the passage.
All that being said, my first reaction to today’s Gospel is that this passage is not one of my favorite scriptures because I only hear and land on one part – “… and let no one take a second tunic” – and don’t hear the opening words where Jesus gives his disciples power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases…
The “second tunic” theme stems from my early days as a Dominican when the Prior, while looking through the rack of clean habits for his – noticed that I had two habits hanging there. Since he knew that I had one habit on he told the Superior of the brothers, “Daniel has too many habits. Make him get rid on at least one!”
So, 50+ years down the road am I still only thinking about that episode and not taking the Gospel as a whole? Every time we hear scripture passages we’ll always hear “flag words” and go off on a tangent thus forgetting the important part of the message: the ending of today’s Gospel: “Then they set out and went from village to village proclaiming the Good News and curing diseases everywhere.”
When Jesus tells the disciples, “take nothing for the journey…” he’s not only speaking of material things but he wants them to rely on their interior belief that He is the Messiah and savior of the world and it is that convection – not what they are wearing or not wearing – that will give them “power and authority over demons…”
Bottom line: let nothing – neither walking stick, nor sack, nor food, nor money, or something like a second tunic – be more important than your awareness of who Jesus is for you and what he is asking of you. The psalm verse that I had printed on my vow card, “One thing I ask of the Lord, and this I seek, to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life” is a reminder to me of what is most important to me. All those other things – walking stick, sack, food, and especially the second tunic – will pass away but the love that God has for me – and I for Him will endure. Amen!