“Take nothing for the journey but a walking stick.” Matthew 6:8
It is with a mental smile that I hear these words. As we pack for vacation, we fill suitcases and bags with the essentials for our trip; all these things that we must have to survive. As our week unfolds, most is left to the side in favor of the offerings of our vacation spot. Fresh air, trails to hike, swimming and fishing, playing on the park, and talking with family take precedence over the books and even games we packed “just in case.” Yet, year after year we bring the extras. Some years the weather pushes us to indoor activities. Even then, a jet pack made from recycling was the favorite toy of the week, not the cars and blocks packed for the toddler.
Jesus wasn’t referring to a vacation for his apostles in this week’s gospel. They were being sent to evangelize and bring no worldly distractions with them that might keep them from accomplishing their mission. He calls each of us to evangelize as well. We may not be sent to faraway places or even unknown people; our call may be to evangelize those within our own home or workplace. With every action and every word, we are called to be Jesus to those around us.
All too often we let the distractions of the world do just that – distract us from our journey. Friday morning I went for a run. In the afternoon I was planning to head to a softball tournament with my oldest daughter. I didn’t end up getting to see the games at all because I hurt my foot while running. As the weekend has progressed, I have done little more than sit in my recliner, icing my foot with various wraps, keeping it elevated. Not knowing what is wrong is driving all of us a little crazy, and hopefully we will know more once I see a doctor Monday. We know nothing is broken, but little more. The journey or lack of it was out of my control.
I don’t sit still well, and I have a pile of paperwork to show for that. Not being able to mobilize myself one might think I would be all caught up. It’s amazing how much a person can procrastinate. I seem to be a master procrastinator. Even being held hostage to a chair, I have found distractions to keep from completing all of my tasks. With so much of the world stripped away, I still am letting myself find ways for this world to distract me from time with Jesus.
I’d like to say that I have been the epitome of grace, accepting my suffering with a humble spirit. Maybe a little, but I’ve also been whiny and demanding at times, feeling sorry for myself and my inability to move around or moaning about the races I have already registered to run that, at the moment, seem out of the realm of possibility to me. I have been moping about how I am going to manage taking the children to their orthodontist appointments or practices when I have barely been able to go to the bathroom by myself for two days.
More than anything, I need to take a step back (or hop as the case may currently be) and realize that I am taking on a martyr complex. How in the world can my family survive if I am not micromanaging the household? This is how Sunday’s gospel speaks to me right now- “Take nothing for the journey.” I feel I have nothing physical to give right now – to my family or otherwise. I am blessed that this is not normally the case, but for right now, the truth is that I need to do what I can to help and not focus on what I am not able to do. I do not know where Jesus is going to send me. I do not know the next step. I need to follow, having faith that the where, what, and when will be made clear to me when it is time.
“Do what you can calmly and gently. Do not be disturbed about the rest, but leave to God’s providence what you cannot manage yourself. God is well pleased with the earnestness and moderate anxiety with which we attend to our obligations, but He is not pleased with that anxiety which afflicts the soul, because He wishes our limitations and weakness to seek the support of His strength and omnipotence, with the trust that in His goodness He will supply what is lacking to our weakness and shortcomings.” – St. Ignatius Loyola
How did the apostles do it? How did they not allow themselves to be distracted by the rest of the world and stay focused on Jesus?
How do you re-center yourself to Jesus’ call in your life when you find yourself distracted?
When you are hanging on by a thread, Jesus is there as your safety harness!