“Jesus sent them out” (Mark 6:7).
1 Kgs 2:1-4, 10-12; Mark 6:7-13
Mark’s detailed account of the first preaching mission tells us a lot about how Jesus saw the reign of God entering the world. He sends the disciples two by two. He could have reached twice as many towns if he sent them out singly, but companionship is essential to faith and real discernment.
The faith the disciples preach to others is first built up within them as they walk along, sharing their doubts and concerns, encouraging one another. Jesus allows sandals and walking sticks. They are on mission, and so they have shoes to protect their feet from the rocky roads and a stick to aid them in walking up and down hills and to fend off dogs that might delay their progress.
Jesus sends them without money, provisions or even a change of clothes. They will enter each town dependent on the hospitality of its people. Those who open their homes to these strangers will perform the first sign that invites God into their lives. Those who refuse the disciples will show themselves not yet ready for the Gospel, and the disciples are told to move on to those who are.
Finally, the disciples are also carrying oil to anoint those who are sick or possessed. What Jesus himself received from the Spirit is to be shared freely. What a beautiful description of our own daily calling, to go forth together, traveling light, moving quickly, stopping wherever we are welcomed, announcing good news and offering comfort and healing to anyone in need.