Starting Point
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Issue Date:  October 14, 2005

Starting Point


It is natural for any living thing to seek security, to protect itself from harm. Examples of such are nearly endless -- and fascinating.

Creatures living in the deepest depths of the ocean have evolved means of emitting light so that they can see in the darkness. Trees boast skins of bark that function as protection and a means of absorbing what the tree needs to live.

It is written that Jesus sent his disciples into the world with the barest of necessities. They were told by him to go and experience church or ministry with the barest means of survival. We do not know what they might have picked up along the way. We do know that as a church, down through the centuries, we have gathered more than a few things in our forays into the world. We hear the Gospels with a lot of baggage, some of it too heavy to carry.

The word impediment comes from the Latin word meaning “heavy baggage.” There is seemingly a relationship of woe between too many pieces of luggage and how goes the journey.

Saints, at their best, teach us to travel light. I suppose that the church, while it takes such men and women to heart, finds it a challenge to imitate them. I suppose the church needs what it has become for some sort of security. But does it need all that it has become?

I wonder.

The church may well one day have to embark on a journey carrying nothing but a few necessary things -- inspired by the very Gospel that has no need of protection. It is the Gospel that calls the church to trust in nothing but what is necessary -- the following of the Lord to go with little and evolve new ways of seeing and new skins for the journey. If God blesses with light creatures of the deep and blesses trees with a wondrous skin, we can take heart that God will give what is needed when we leave what we have behind and follow him.

Fr. James Stephen Behrens is a monk at Monastery of the Holy Spirit, Conyers, Ga.

National Catholic Reporter, October 14, 2005

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