God's grace is enough
A reflection for the Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
by Clay Imoo
In this Sunday’s Gospel reading from Mark, we read of Jesus sending out the Twelve Apostles in pairs to preach, cast out demons, and heal the sick. In doing so, he instructed them to take nothing for the journey: no bread, no bag, no money, and no extra shirt or coat.
Jesus needed the apostles to believe that his love and grace were enough to provide for them. They were to trust local people for hospitality, and they were to trust God to provide for their needs.
Thus, all the apostles had were a staff, their sandals, and their faith. In Jesus’ eyes, these were the most important things. Everything else was frivolous.
Similarly, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to evaluate what’s truly important to us. Over the past 16 months, I’ve paid particular attention to relationships and friendships. I’ve gained a new appreciation for quality over quantity when it comes to the people in my life.
As the “father figure” in many of my relationships and friendships (maybe because of my age), I’m often the one doing the initiating and checking in. I’m grateful to those who reach out to me as well and who aren’t afraid to ask me if I’m putting time and energy into proper things. I’ve learned that I desire to continue to move my friendships to a deeper level, especially with respect to faith.
I used to try to be “all things to all people”. However, over the past year and a half, I’ve discovered just who I want to stay in touch with on a deeper level. And it has been quite liberating! It has a been a pruning of sorts.
In looking at the scripture passage, it’s also vital to note that Jesus sent his apostles out in pairs. There are a few reasons why this is important. The main one is that the Gospel message is too big and too important for one person to spread on his own.
Partners can look out for one another and ensure each other’s safety. They also can provide encouragement, companionship, and support to each other. Most importantly, they provide accountability to each other.
In my own life, I have a few friends who I count on as my accountability partners. They are all people who I trust to encourage me, inspire me, affirm me, and most importantly, challenge me. They all (to varying degrees) understand what is important to me, what I’m passionate about, and how I spend my time and energy. I’ve given them full permission to check in on me and ask me tough questions. Questions ranging from “How’s your prayer life?” to “Are you spending enough time with your family?”
We live in a tricky world. A world full of temptations that snip and nip at us. These accountability partners help to ensure that my mind, heart, and body are all in the right place.
Finally, when Jesus started to assemble his team of apostles, he didn’t seek out the most talented, the most popular, the best public speakers, or the most skilled. He sought out people who were willing to follow him and to trust him.
In ministry, we often hear the phrase “God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called”. Sure, this mantra may be a little bit dated, but it still rings true today.
We hear of countless stories in the Bible of “ordinary” people doing extraordinary things. Their biggest assets were their faith, obedience, and willingness to learn. They knew that everything they were about to accomplish was because of God and His grace, and not because of their own doing.
St. Paul writes in his Second Letter to the Corinthians that God told him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.”
If God’s grace was enough for the apostles charged with spreading the Gospel, it’s certainly enough for you and me.
The readings for the Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B, are
Clay Imoo is a speaker, YouTuber, writer, musician, and bowler. He is married to his lovely wife, Gail, and together they have three awesome children (Sean, Jacob, and Kayla). They live in Richmond and are parishioners of St. Paul Parish. Clay has worked for the Archdiocese of Vancouver for the past 19 years, and he currently serves as an Associate Director for the Ministries and Outreach Office. When not doing ministry, Clay enjoys spending time with his family, playing music, playing sports, playing nap time, writing Canucks parody songs, and making cheesy YouTube videos.