Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals….
Into whatever house you enter, first say,
‘Peace to this household.’
If a peaceful person lives there,
your peace will rest on him….
Stay in the same house
and eat and drink what is offered to you,…
Luke 10: 1-9
I am humbled before the witness of seventy-four members of our parish here in Honduras.
They left home for a week, without cellphone, without money, to be missionaries in fifty-five sites in the parish. They went door to door, visiting the people respectfully – not haranguing them with a Gospel that is used as a weapon, but listening to them and sharing prayer and scripture.
They were received in the villages and towns where they were given food and lodging – and a guide each day to lead them to the various homes in the villages.
We had trained them to be welcoming guests, listening to the people, praying with them – and, when needed, responding to the needs of the people.
I have spoken with a number of them since their return.
Generally, the experience was very good. They were received by the people in their homes, often offered a drink and something to eat in each house: so much so that in one case they put off eating lunch until three in the afternoon.
In some places when they visited the homes of evangelicals, the reception was very welcoming. They talked and prayed with them, a stance so very different from the usual animosity here between Catholics and evangelicals.
In a few places they responded to the needs of very poor families. In one village, they had a collection of goods which they shared with needy households.
There were difficulties and problems. But that was expected.
But these missionaries were signs of the Reign of God for many people.
This mission, above all, exemplifies the culture of encounter that Pope Francis has urged us to live and promote.