Be free

He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick - no food, no sack, no money in their belts.

Imagine the apostles, sent forth by Jesus with such minimal baggage, arriving at a modern day airport. Presuming they would be willing to check their walking sticks as luggage, they could proceed freely through security and take their seats on their flight without the hassles of finding space for multiple oversized carry-on bags. Depending on the airline, they would enjoy some "free" refreshments. Then, would come the moment of truth: Would the passengers seated beside the apostles welcome them and converse with them, or would the more interesting and entertaining things produced from within their oversized carry-on bags preserve them electronically from any further interaction?

I admit that I am sometimes a little jealous of the travelers who travel light. It is easy to spot a seasoned traveler who will walk off the plane and go straight to his car without having to pick up a suitcase at baggage claim. The apostles sent by Jesus might have preferred the "security" of bringing along more stuff. Jesus, however, wants them to trust in Him totally. He wants them to know that they will be taken care of as they do His work. So, they set out with no things to rely on - just His power.

Probably they experienced exhilaration as they began this journey. More than once, however, they would have looked for something they would have brought along, believing that they needed it. Each time, though, they recalled His words and knew that He must have good reasons. Imagine their thoughts: "He said to bring no food, but I am hungry. If I had brought my traveling sack I could reach in there right now and pull out my sunglasses. With a little cash I could buy a lemonade." Of course I jest with these more modern examples, but the reality is the same. The things we "must" have with us oftentimes prevent us from doing well the very mission of Jesus in our particular vocations and lives.

The apostles found success when they obeyed and trusted Jesus. They preached repentance, drove out demons, anointed the sick and cured them. Of course, they also found people who were unwilling to receive them or their message. Jesus told them specifically not to be overly worried about that, telling them to "shake the dust off your feet" and move on. Clearly, Jesus meant for them to try to speak to and reach as many people as they could. It would be wrong for them to carry His power with them and never try to bring it to bear in the lives of the people.

Maybe this is where we can find the meaning in this Gospel passage that helps us. Placing all our trust in Jesus will enliven and motivate our willingness to share Him with others. Consider the way you receive what you perceive to be His will for you, even in the small things of life. A humble trust in His way over your way will bring you closer to the free, unburdened kind of traveling along life's roads that gives Him more chances in more lives. The next time you have a chance to talk to someone along the road (or on the flight), try to be free enough to take the chance. It is likely that the burdens you once knew are still in your neighbor's carry-on. Take a hint from the cool Southwest Airlines slogan "You are now free to roam about the country." Be free, so He can and they can. If your carry-on doesn't fit here, it's too big to carry on.

Fr. Zuberbueler is pastor of St. Louis Church in Alexandria.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015