"Take nothing for the journey." Mt 6:7
How to proclaim the gospel in a way others can hear it and be transformed is always a question for Christians. It is clear that the mere announcing of the gospel is hardly enough to convince others of its truth or power. While hearing the word of God can introduce others to the wonder of the good news, by itself it does little to convince others to live it. Only witness of and to the word has a lasting effect in others lives.
When Jesus instructs his disciples to take nothing for the journey, he is not exalting simplicity of life and lifestyle in itself. Rather, he is reminding them that the only way they will stand out in life is to live the gospel for its own sake. Carrying nothing assures those to whom they are sent that they have no ulterior motive. They are not announcing Good News to gain privilege or voice or power. They are living the Good News so that others might know its freeing and empowering effects.
St Bonaventure had regularly to remind the early Franciscans of this truth. Voluntary poverty, in the radical form it took in the 13th century, was an attempt to say that wealth and power were not goods in themselves. Unfortunately, the friars sometimes exalted poverty for itself. The more dire and abject the friars appeared, the more they would be admired. Only when the choice of poverty challenges others to listen to God's word and to build a more just world does it make sense as a gospel practice.
Today, ask God to show you how to live more simply for the sake of the Good News.
Does voluntary poverty and simplicity of life make any sense to you?