Just the essentials MARK 6: 7–13
In July 2016, I was privileged to be a part of the local contingent representing our archdiocese at World Youth Day in Poland. Approximately eighty-five pilgrims gathered at Piarco International Airport that evening in July pretty excited to leave our shores for our long trip across the Atlantic. We were carded to leave Piarco for Gatwick Airport, London, and then from Gatwick to Warsaw Chopin Airport, Poland.
Whenever I go on a trip with so many people, especially when we are all going for the same occasion, I usually observe people’s luggage. For some persons, you just have to wonder if they are migrating to the country of destination because of their enormous load, and for others, you question what they really have in just that one small suitcase.
Fr Gregory Augustine CSSp, who was also a World Youth Day pilgrim and one of our spiritual directors on the trip that year, (and I hope he forgives me for this) fell into the latter category of travelling lightly; I was amazed by the fact that he carried only one small suitcase with just the bare essentials.
I recall asking him about it when we arrived in Gatwick and in his true ‘Fr Gregory style’ he answered, “I usually travel light Denzil, I don’t have time for all that load!”.
Upon arriving at Warsaw Chopin Airport in Poland, to our utter dismay, we had no luggage to collect! Having stored our checked in luggage altogether on the plane from Gatwick, there was an apparent mix up when we realised that not one pilgrim from our number got their luggage at Warsaw.
Panic stricken of course, those of us who brought our houses, land and special possessions with us in our suitcases froze with sorrowful looks on our faces, already beginning to imagine the possibility of never retrieving them. And that’s when I observed Fr Gregory who literally had a calm look on his face with absolutely nothing to worry about.
Suitcase found, suitcase lost, it did not matter much to him. He had all he needed since the bare essentials he brought with him in his checked in suitcase could be easily replaced in Poland.
In this weekend’s gospel, Jesus sends the disciples out, in pairs, with the authority to preach the Good News, to cast out devils and to heal the sick. In similar sentiment to Fr Gregory, Jesus did not “have time for all that load” when he instructed His disciples to ‘travel lightly’—no bread, no haversack, no coppers for their purses, no spare tunic.
Heard in contemporary language, Jesus’ words may probably sound like this for all of us who travel today—“no food, no bag pack or suitcase, no spending money and no extra clothes!”.
What exactly does travelling lightly on life’s journey afford us? Quite simply, it affords us the peace of having less to worry about along the way. More importantly, it encourages dependence upon God our Heavenly Father who provides for all our needs.
Jesus himself would have said earlier in His public ministry, “That is why I am telling you not to worry about your life and what you are to eat, nor about your body and how you are to clothe it. Surely life means more than food, and the body more than clothing!” (Matthew 6:25)
And it is on this point that I invite you dear reader to consider the many things we believe ourselves to need at various times in our lives. Do we really need the things we convince ourselves that we cannot live without?
What happens when we manage to live without the thing we convinced ourselves we needed oh so desperately? Most times, if not always, we learn more about who we really are and more of who God really is. These two are the bare essentials of the spiritual life.
And in case you were wondering, we did eventually retrieve our luggage in Poland! Thanks be to God!
The Gospel Meditations for July are by Denzil Williams, Moderator for Youth and Young Adult Ministry of the Southern Vicariate. He has been actively engaged with delivering talks and facilitating workshops and retreats for over ten years within faith-based organisations and schools across Trinidad and Tobago. He also is the author of two self-help books, The Gift of Emotional Pain and The Spirituality of the Obvious.
By Denzil Williams