Thursday Week 27 Year I All Saints of the Society of Jesus

St Luke

Print Version October 17th, 2003

In the gospel today we get to the pith of apostolic poverty: to be on the road, with no bag, no money, no shoes even, nothing to help you on your way, just the clothes you stand up in, and nowhere to stay except the first place that will take you in.
Extreme, eh? As Luke tells it, everything needs to go unneeded if you are on the road for Christ, everything has to be dressed down to bare basics.
… Well, that should be getting us nicely depressed, either bemoaning the rigours of our own apostolic calling, or giving rueful thanks to rank among the un-chosen, the great un-called.
… But what interests me tonight is not what seems to be stripped away but what remains, what it seems is essential to being sent with good news. And it’s this: apostles always come—and go—in pairs!
Isn’t that strange? Isn’t it surprising? You can go barefoot and battered but you can’t go alone. You can beg and bother but not by yourself. Company is the supreme evangelical virtue.

Listen to Paul whining on in the first reading. How he’s been deserted, this one’s gone, that one’s gone, he’s left alone, unsupported, and unloved. Don’t we empathise with him just a bit? Even to the point of despising him a little? He says publicly what we only say to ourselves—we need company.
To be company was, it seems, Luke’s real role, and Luke’s sanctity. We celebrate him today as evangelist—a spreader of good news—but his first evangelical job is to be company, just that. To be the one who hangs around when all the others leave.
Being a sidekick doesn’t seem like much of a vocation—being Robin to Paul’s batman, Tonto to his Lone Ranger—but it is. And maybe the highest.
There’s an image out there of Jesus as the strong, silent type. Self-confident, self-sufficient, self-possessed, and self-controlled. And maybe he was. But what we know about him for sure is that he needed company, delighted in it. He was no hermit. He chose disciples. He gathered hangers-on. He sought out dinner invitations right and left. He sat and nattered with scoundrels and saints. … He liked people. He liked company. Needed it, I’d venture.
Ultimately, I guess, he gets that from his dad … from God. Because we believe that strange trinitarian thing about God: though God might be one, somehow God is also company. God wouldn’t be God if it weren’t for the companionship at God’s heart.
Jesus wouldn’t be God’s son if he didn’t need company. And maybe the highest vocation open to any of us is to be just that: company for the one who calls us.

Entry Filed under: Homilies,Loyola Hall


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