July 6, 2003
 He left there and returned to his hometown. His disciples came along.  On the Sabbath, he gave a lecture in the meeting place. He made a real hit, impressing everyone. "We had no idea he was this good!" they said. "How did he get so wise all of a sudden, get such ability?"
 But in the next breath they were cutting him down: "He's just a carpenter-Mary's boy. We've known him since he was a kid. We know his brothers, James, Justus, Jude, and Simon, and his sisters. Who does he think he is?" They tripped over what little they knew about him and fell, sprawling. And they never got any further.
 Jesus told them, "A prophet has little honor in his hometown, among his relatives, on the streets he played in as a child."  Jesus wasn't able to do much of anything there -- he laid hands on a few sick people and healed them, that's all.  He couldn't get over their stubbornness. He left and made a circuit of the other villages, teaching.
 Jesus called the Twelve to him, and sent them out in pairs. He gave them authority and power to deal with the evil opposition.  He sent them off with these instructions:
"Don't think you need a lot of extra equipment for this. You are the equipment. No special appeals for funds. Keep it simple. 
 "And no luxury inns. Get a modest place and be content there until you leave.
 "If you're not welcomed, not listened to, quietly withdraw. Don't make a scene. Shrug your shoulders and be on your way."
 Then they were on the road. They preached with joyful urgency that life can be radically different;  right and left they sent the demons packing; they brought wellness to the sick, anointing their bodies, healing their spirits.
1. One difference between growing/active (yes, two different categories, not necessarily synonyms) and those which are not is this business of focusing on keeping everyone in their place. The little they knew about Jesus said he belonged in the shop making chairs, not sitting in the synagogue teaching chair. We are so quick to take a little piece of knowledge and project it world-wide. Simply leaving room for the mystery of life to lift up the most unexpected of people (magnificat) frees us to grow and be energetic.
2. I am still puzzled, and probably always will be, about the connection between faith and healing. There are stories of people being healed and that is attributed to their faith or the faith of someone else. There are other stories where no attribution of faith is given. Still others are to be a sign from GOD without regard to faith by any of us. Even here the NRSV says Jesus "could do no" deed of power there, "except".... And there it is again, "couldn't" and "except." I'm glad for the exceptions of life. May we hear more of them.
3. No extra equipment, not even a chip on your shoulder for when things don't go as you had planned and you need to blame, blame, blame. Not packing a chip, so we can be free to shrug is still wonderful advice that goes along way to keeping us focused on the task at hand, not the distractions.
How's by your shoulder? God a chip? Is Death sitting there advising you? Able to slope those shoulder so the excess of life will roll off, as rain off a duck's back, and you don't have to be like Atlas with the world.