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Valerie SchultzFebruary 01, 2024
Photo from Unsplash.

A Reflection for Thursday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits. He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick - no food, no sack, no money in their belts . . . (Mk 6:7-8)

Summer camp at the age of eight was my first introduction to the buddy system. As a kid who had never been camping, my parents being more of the Holiday-Inn-type of vacationers, I was grateful for the camp rule that anytime, for example, we had to visit the latrine in the middle of the night, we had to take a friend with us. I’m not sure how much help another eight-year-old would have been during a safety emergency, other than running for a grown-up, but we stuck with our designated buddy on hikes and at meals and during arts-and-crafts. Mine was named Penny.

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus institutes the buddy system for his earliest followers, whom he sends out on the road to evangelize. I sometimes think of this reading when I see a pair of young Mormon missionaries around my neighborhood, riding their bicycles and wearing ties and offering their good news to anyone who will open their front door. The Twelve sent out by Jesus had to count on people opening their doors to strangers, as well as feeding and housing them. It must have worked, because here we are, a couple of centuries later, gathering on Sunday, preaching repentance, evangelizing and being evangelized.

Jesus knows that a community draws its strength by, essentially, widening the buddy system. We humans are naturally attracted to groups of like-minded people who care for one another, who provide a haven for each other and who don’t let anyone go out into the wild world alone. A community begins with a buddy. I once wrote about marriage being a similar sending out of a couple, who vow to support each other and depend on each other for strength along the journey, two by two. Marriage may be the most intimate buddy system. To trust that you have a friend no matter what is a great gift.

I lost track of Penny over the years, but I still remember clutching her hand on the dark path through the camp, running madly with her for shelter through a thunderstorm, throwing our sticks and twigs into a bonfire, casting hilarious shapes with our flashlights on the side of our tent. She made the strange new experience of camping manageable for me. We can make this wild life manageable for each other by starting small, two by two, moment by moment, adventure by adventure—buddies forever with Jesus.

More: Scripture

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