Having Little, Giving Much

Mark 6:7-13

Someone once said, “Those are really rich whose needs are the least”.

 

Many of us who are here today are amongst those who have gone through the cycle of “buying stuff, then using that stuff, then discarding that same stuff” more than a few times.  Be it clothes, furniture, tools, appliances or gadgets, through the years, we come to realize that spending time accumulating stuff, tends to have less and less utility.

 

This wisdom comes from the learned behavior of practical budget management over our lifetimes. But I think that as we journey in our faith, we uncover some undeniable truths as they are prescribed by the scriptures. This particular truth (“those are really rich whose needs are the least”), like many other truths, fits the grand design formulated by God on how to lead a successful life here on earth, and how to be made worthy of the kingdom of heaven.

 

In our Gospel today, we see the next stage in the formation of Jesus’ disciples.  First, there was a calling of the first disciples to be “fishers of men”, then the choosing of twelve who would share in the very work of Jesus.  Now the Twelve, the foundation of the future community, are being sent out to do exactly the same work that Jesus has been doing.

 

They are told to travel lightly, bringing only absolute necessities. No food or money or even a change of clothes. They will not need these things because they will be taken care of by the people they serve.  They are to stay in the first house that takes them in. Overall, they are to show total dependence on and trust in God.  In this, they’ll find freedom, freedom at its very best. This a model repeated by many of the saints, from St Francis to St Ignatius to Mother Teresa.

 

This scripture reading should have us reflecting today: Do we really need all the baggage we carry around through life?

 

It’s an old illustration, but a good one: You will never see a U-Haul trailer being towed by a hearse.  The deceased own nothing; control of their possessions passes to others.

 

Consider the metaphor Paul uses in Romans to describe the life of the Christian. He calls it “a living sacrifice.” What does Paul mean by that? He means that the Christian dies to self and self-interest when he becomes a servant of Jesus Christ.

 

 

“Those are really rich” whose needs are the least. That is what Jesus is teaching us. And, of course, he was a living example.

 

Consider how important this discussion of having little and giving much means to God.  Let’s check out some stats: There are over twenty-two hundred references in the Bible that discuss money and possessions.

 

That's three times as many references as there is to love, seven times as many references as there is to prayer, and eight times as many references than to belief. One fifth of Jesus' teachings were on money and possessions. Seventeen of thirty-eight parables deal with money and possessions. Jesus talked more about money than any other single topic, other than….the kingdom of God.

 

The disciples here went off and did the three central works of Jesus:

 

1) They proclaimed the Kingdom and called for a radical conversion, a conversion of hearts of the people they met with, so that they might see life in the way that Jesus, the Son of God, saw life.

2) They liberated many people from evil influences and compulsions.  Freedom is of the essence of Christian discipleship.

3) They anointed the sick with soothing oil and brought them healing and wholeness.

 

They not only preached the Kingdom; they made it a reality in people’s lives.  This is what we too are all called to do within the circumstances of our lives - Having little but giving much.  We arrive at this place of humility by giving ourselves over to God, being like the disciples, dependent on him, and trusting him.

 

So we pray today that we can continue our transformation, to give more while retaining less.  Many of us do a lot of weeding during the summer months. Maybe during these winter months, we’ll have the opportunity to do some additional weeding, to rid ourselves of some of our baggage, not just those things that clutter our house, but those things that clutter our souls.  And in doing so, we will be able to be liberated from our evil influences and compulsions, finding freedom at its best, and becoming really rich because our needs will be the least.

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