He called the Twelve to him, and began to send them out two by two, giving them authority over evil spirits. And he ordered them to take nothing for the journey, except a staff—no food, no bag, no money in their belts. They were to wear sandals and were not to take an extra tunic. And he added, “In whatever house you are welcomed, stay there until you leave the place. If any place doesn’t receive you, and the people refuse to listen to you, leave after shaking the dust off your feet. It will be a testimony against them.” So they set out to proclaim that this was the time to repent. They drove out many demons and healed many sick people by anointing them. —Mark 6: 7-13
We shall reflect on the gospel account where Jesus had called the Twelve disciples and began to send them out by two’s. As “the chosen few,” they were authorized to go in His behalf and gave clear and precise instructions on what to bring and what to do. What to do if they are received well and accepted and what to do if otherwise. Jesus called and Jesus sent.
One has to hear and listen carefully to the invitation of God as each one is called by and called by one’s name. And that is a fact in life, we are all called to become fully human, we are all called to become better persons, to become a holy people of God. As a community of faith, we are called to be holy, hence, to take the way to holiness. God called us to be His and to anybody else with a clear-cut instruction and that is if we want to be His own, then we have to follow his precepts and commands. The Twelve disciples were invited by Jesus to follow Him and they responded positively to the invitation. Consequently, they were given tasks to perform and pursue. They were given the authority and sent by pairs. Today, the tasks are referred to missionary tasks given by Jesus through the Church.
All of us are called, yet the response may vary; others may say “yes” totally while others may say “no”, or “not yet” for not being sure or “never.” That is the consequence of an invitation, the responsibility of the one called to respond. The response should not result as forced or imposed. This way, the response to the invitation is owned and freely made by the individual.
He chooses and sends
People who consecrate themselves to God and dedicate themselves to live the evangelical counsels of poverty, obedience and chastity, they become consecrated persons or religious persons. After a religious person professed his/ her solemn vows (or final vows) and get ordained to the ministry of the priesthood for men, he/ she is given an assignment or task to perform. He/ she is therefore called and being sent.
In my early years as a Carmelite religious, I was assigned in the province and was tasked to be the community Vocation Animator. A vocation animator is one who spearheads the vocation promotion campaigns and at the same time in- charge of the recruitment processes for future members. For a number of years, I go to different schools and parishes for promotions and accompaniment to those who expressed their interest and inclination to religious life. We shared on self- knowledge and interests, on what are the valuable and meaningful things in life. The different states of life and options available before us were also discussed and deepened. The Vocation Animator accompanies the one who is searching and shares his/ her own vocation story. It is always good to narrate one’s vocation story especially the memorable moments and highlights when you were also in that age of searching. I have a very colorful journey before I eventually became a religious priest.
It is always joy to be called and chosen to serve Him. As a teacher, as a healer, as a preacher, as an exorcist, an accompanist, or in whatever pastoral tasks and assignments that one takes. Recently, I presided over the thanksgiving mass that concludes the weeks of review for the teachers’ licensure examination in a premier university for teacher education in Manila, and I am touched by the faith of the reviewers who are now prepared to take the responsibility as teachers.
I reminded them that it is not enough to be just teachers but to aspire for more—and that is to be good teachers, which is the way to holiness. Teaching is not for anybody for not all can teach, one is called to be a teacher. Teaching ministry is a vocation to respond, to cherish, to nurture and to nourish. To be a good teacher should be the end goal of every aspiring teacher. A good teacher is a holy teacher, holy because he/ she facilitates learning but above all he/ she teaches himself/ herself. A good teacher is a witness to God’s unending love, thus, he/ she is willing to commit to serve the children and the young in their learning. I really wondered when I see in them their intent desire and dedication to the teaching ministry as they put fully their trust to the Great Teacher—Jesus, who is the way, the truth and the life.
After discerning on the invitation of Jesus for us, we should be willing to take responsibility and our mission. Our mission is our task to take. Reflecting on Jesus’ instructions when He sent the Twelve:
As followers of Christ, are we prepared to take the challenges of Jesus after He called us?
As baptized Christians, are we equipped to perform Jesus’ instructions as God’s authorized representatives?
As faithful Christians, are we fully ready to become Jesus’ witnesses as He sent us to preach, teach, and heal?
Prayer: Lord God, thank you for calling us and for choosing us to be your servants. As we live out your message of love, may we serve faithfully your people, especially the less fortunate and the needy. May we become worthy messengers of Jesus’ Gospel to the people whom we are sent. This we ask through Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever, Amen.