I ask you to think about the images that come to mind when I speak the word military. Now do the same for the word Church. With regard to the military, I would bet that most picture foot soldiers, or soldiers in a tank, or flying a jet, the rank and file enlisted doing their duty not generals or admirals in the Pentagon.. With regard to the Church, I would bet most first think of bishops, or a pope, or priests offering the Mass, not the foot soldiers in the pew, the laity.

 

Today's Gospel reading from Mark where Jesus send out the Apostles in twos to minister is often a Gospel story used to rally a cry for vocations to the priesthood or religious life as it should, but it can and must also be seen as a call to ministry for the church at large, the laity in the pews. The Twelve preached repentance, drove out demons and healed the sick. While the Church has sacraments which rightfully remind and pour forth encounters with God for all, the sacraments only work on those who come to them. The laity have a special gift and call to minister these realities of God's presence int he midst of their lives, their work place, their family and friends.

 

The faithful can preach repentance by being examples of forgiveness and mercy to those around them. They can preach by witnessing to forgiveness in their own relationships. They can expel demons by speaking out against in justice in the workplace, neighborhood, and culture. They can minister healing, by being a source of comfort and compassion to those in need where they find them. 

 

Yes, the laity are the foot soldiers called to action in today's Gospel message. The laity can in many ways be an even greater sign than the clergy of what Paul spoke about to the Ephesians:

     

     " In him we have redemption by his blood, the forgiveness of transgressions,
            in accord with the riches of his grace that he lavished upon us."

 

So today in this hearing of God's Word, we are all called and sent out with authority, the authority of the Son of God made flesh in our midst.