Take nothing for the journey. Seriously?


September 23, 2020 – Wednesday of the 25th Week in Ordinary Time

Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/092320.cfm)


You are going on a journey and it will take you several days. What would you do? Naturally, you will prepare Your personal effects, clothes and some other things that you think will be useful for your journey. One may carry a book oR two and some nitty-gritty stuff that “might be needed” in some surprising situation.

However, once you are already in the journey, then, you will realize that there are many non-essential things that you brought with you. This has been my experience too. One time, as I prepared myself for a trip, going to a mission area, I brought “things that I thought were important and essentials.” As I packed my things, I kept putting stuff that “might be needed.” As a result, I had a big and heavy bag to carry for the journey.

Later on, when I was already in the area, I realized that I have brought many non-essential things which only made my bag heavy and full. I realized too that what I did must have come from my anxiety of “what if.” What if this happens, then, I need to bring extra shoes, some extra shirts, extra food supplies etc. There is some kind of anxiety of the future. I wanted to be prepared always, always ready to respond in some surprising or emergency situations. There is nothing wrong with this. However, the problem lies in the heart that is constantly anxious of what lies ahead and so has become “heavy and full.”

When our heart is heavy and full, then, the heart becomes grumpy and uneasy, unwelcoming and inflexible. This makes us calculating to the point that we do not want surprises anymore. We only want certainty. Nevertheless, in life, there are many things that we find ourselves uncertain. We might get lost at times and meet strangers. The anxiety to be always certain may prevent us from being surprised and enjoying the wonders that surprises may bring.

This is something that Jesus wanted to avoid for his disciples. Jesus gave them instruction that as they begin their journey, they were to “take nothing.” Seriously? Well, that’s what Jesus said. So, what was the wisdom behind this?

Jesus knew that the material things that the disciples will carry will only burden them in their journey. Attachment in those things will make their heart restless. Jesus did not want these men to become anxious of their journey, of what lies ahead. Jesus actually invited his disciples to fully trust in the providence of God, and to be surprised with the graces of God.

When the heart has more room and lighter because it has no attachments to material possessions or emotional issues, then, the heart becomes more welcoming of others, of surprising events and of ordinary graces. Our heart will be more flexible and understanding of others too.

Thus, the invitation of Jesus is not about the direction in life but about our attitude in the journey, of not being attached to non-essentials in life. Like the disciples, we  are invited to “travel light” by not taking with us those things in life that might only burden us and make our heart full. Our desire to be always certain and ready, our past issues and pains, our bad habits and hurtful attitudes are some of those “stuff” that must be left behind. Do not carry them with us.

Jesus invites us today to trust God’s providence and to be surprised by His graces prepared along the way as we meet people and embrace events in our life. In this way, we become more welcoming of God’s presence and accepting of God’s graces.

…we become more welcoming of God’s presence and accepting of God’s graces…

As a response, like the disciples too, may our words, our actions, and our very presence become channels of God’s blessings, of peace, and of God’s gift of healing to those who are ill and those who are broken. Hinaut pa.

Jom Baring, CSsR


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