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Sending the Disciples

“Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics.” (Lk.9:3)

That sounds like an impossible task in a world where we are used to traveling with full suitcases.  What was still possible two thousand years ago seems in our time like a reckless undertaking.  How can we fulfill this task—perhaps not in a literal sense, but in the figurative sense of the word?  Can we go out into the world without inner ballast?

Every person carries a load with him from the past, not only from the course of his own life, but also from the lives of his ancestors.  We have been marked by all of these, whether we want to or not; it has made us into prejudiced persons.  Usually, it is with this burden that we meet other people.  The burden becomes ballast when it is the only basis on which we evaluate others. Whatever does not fit into our limited images is then soon condemned.

“Tabula rasa” *, clean slate, was the name of the wax tablet used in antiquity, on which one wrote with a slate-pencil, and which was afterwards rubbed clean again, so that it could be used anew.  It was a picture for the original state of the soul before it was filled with observations, thoughts, and feelings—a clean slate.  We will never be able to go back to that original condition.  But what we can do is to become conscious of the baggage we have brought with us for this life—in order, if only for moments, to become all eyes and all ears for every human being we meet, as if it were the first time we met this person.  And otherwise, as if it were the last time we were meeting him—in order then to continue on the closely written path to our unknown destination.  When we meet another person in this way, we fulfill the task Christ gave to His disciples: “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics.”

 

–Rev. Bastiaan Baan, August 16, 2021

* Literally: rubbed out writing tablet.

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