“Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool” – Isaiah 1:18
Fourteenth Sunday of the Year
At this time of year, if we can afford to get away, go on holidays and the anticipation of travel fill us with a renewed excitement. We get down our baggage and start packing our suitcases, but are now ever vigilant and aware of weight restrictions.
The disciples in today’s Gospel were on a trial run on their first journey away as it were before they would be sent after Pentecost with the Holy Spirit and with the anointing to forgive sins to baptise and to preach.
Funnily enough the disciples are called to go forth without any spare ‘anything’! Why is this? This ensures a speedy and unhindered visitation and area cover in the shortest time possible. The Lord will provide through receptive and hospitable hearers on the first mission of the disciples. And the disciples return comparing notes and stories at the wonderful signs that accompany the message and the preliminary mission.
There must be in all of us at all times that message and that confidence and trust that the Lord is ahead of us in all things and our pilgrimage journey in this life. He knows what lies ahead and He will provide for us. Wherever life brings us, He will be there waiting as well as with us every step of the way. We are therefore to practice detachment form things that can hinder effective witness.
But there is another kind of baggage we carry, and the term ‘emotional baggage’ is used for a person with mental or emotional problems. Often a term that is employed of a disturbed person, often dismissively, is that ‘they have issues’.
Who does not have issues today? Just under the surface there is in all of us baggage we carry, the things that weigh us down, the heaviness in our hearts, the stresses and strains of life, the financial burdens of so many people, the uncertainties of life, the failure of our elected representatives to truly represent us in areas of pressing concern, the cynicism in the media, the relentless doom and gloom in the economy, and daily we are drawn to the blaring headlines of crashes and disasters and terrorism and other acts of violence. There is so much lack of hope in people’s hearts, not knowing where to turn to for relief, solace or comfort. What can explain the depression in young people, taking the ultimate dreaded step? There is in society the lack of a hopeful vision of a clear and consistent moral as well as spiritual leadership.
But any desired change in the world at large, or in society begins with the individual decision-making process. Rather than be trapped in an ever downward spiral, we must turn to Christ and form a relationship with Him in prayerful trust.
We must recognise the baggage and weight we carry in our hearts. The Bible refers to the burden that sin is, which with anger, shame, self-loathing and guilt can be overwhelming. The burden of sin, and forgiveness is described in the psalms as follows: ‘too much for us our offences but you wipe them away’ (Psalm 44)
He took away our offences for us
‘Come to me, all you that labour, and are burdened, and I will refresh you.’ (Mt 11:28)
We cannot give what we do not have. Pope John Paul – soon to be saint – said that ‘those who have had a genuine encounter with Christ cannot keep it to themselves.’ That is our experience too.
‘Blessed be the Lord our God who has helped us and we too are called to help one another in their time of need. Just as we share in God’ consolations, so we share in God’s great help. (2 Cor 1:4).
To sum up therefore we are called to ‘love one another as I have loved you’ (John). This love means that we should ‘bear one another’s burdens, not as a duty but gladly’. (1 Th 5:14). The fact that we are unburdened (of sin in Confession) becomes a source of joy – the joy of knowing and experiencing Christ’s ready forgiveness most of all, and therefore we are called to forgive as well as be forgiven. This is the greatest challenge of the call to love one another- to forgive one another in Christ. That is truly ‘bearing one another’s burdens.
In effect the disciples were called to carry no baggage in order to more effectively relieve people of theirs!
Let there be no baggage between us or overhead!
Posted by FrJohnCobh