travel light

Benjamin Franklin is often noted to have said, “Those who would trade a little liberty for a little added security, deserve neither and will lose both.”

Jesus sent seventy-two disciples “ahead of him  in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit” and told them to travel light, without any means of support. In fact, he explicitly told them “Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; …”

Like lambs among wolves

Like lambs among wolves

Jesus gave these disciples great liberty at the price of little to no security, for which Franklin might have rephrased his statement to say “Those who would trade security for liberty, deserve both and will gain both.”

Depending on which manuscript you read the number Jesus sent forth varies between 70 and 72; 70 being the classic biblical number of nations of the world while the higher number may come from the Greek version of Genesis which lists 72 nations.

There is some reasonable conjecture to be made that Luke wrote this account to illustrate the mission of the early church: to go out to all the nations and spread the good news of Jesus Christ. The mission of the Twelve represents the Church’s mission to Israel (twelve tribes); and the mission of the Seventy, its mission to the nations of the world. In addition, Luke likely wished to use the sending out of the 70/72  others as a symbolic paradigm for how all Christians ought to live and fulfill the mission of the church.

All Christians are called to be laborers for Christ, working to spread the Good News, to gather in the abundant harvest. To go out with little or nothing to encumber you or to slow you down—penniless, bagless, shoeless— would definitely be attention-getting behavior, so why would Jesus ask his disciples and us to travel this way? For the same reason that he told the rich man to “Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”1

Possessions possess the possessor thus diminishing the ability to focus on what is most important: reaching the Kingdom of God. Jesus wanted those sent out to keep their eyes on the prize and to maintain a sense of urgency in their journey.

The point here is to announce to the world that we are people who trust in God for our safety and security, while depending on the hospitality of others to meet our physical needs because we have Good News to share with them.

What does this mean for us? In a way this might be understood as “less is more”: less possessions, more freedom; less dependence, more independence; less distractions, more focus; less worry, more joy.

As someone who has traveled extensively, I have learned to travel light and I always find it amusing when I observe those who seem unable to leave home without taking it all with them. They are the ones who take the American Express slogan “Don’t leave home without it” literally.   It makes you wonder how much they will be able to focus on the purpose for traveling, whether a vacation or business, much less enjoy it.

We should and must place our trust in God while publicly and profoundly exhibiting a sense of purpose that places God at the center of our lives, ever while daily living above and beyond producing and consuming or being entertained.

Too often today, there is a feeling that we are living in a strange new world: where up is down and right is left, where good is bad and evil is simply not so bad, where hard work and being responsible for one’s actions are no longer expected nor valued, where reality is what you wish it to be and where faith in God is considered old-fashioned and out-of-touch with your personal reality.

In a recent article written for Our Sunday Visitor, Teresa Tomeo writes:

“Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore. Do you ever feel like Dorothy, dropped smack into a strange world that makes little sense, where trees talk, monkeys fly and home as we once knew it is nowhere to be found? Well, so do a lot of other folks, including Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.” 

“I admit to being unapologetically Catholic, unapologetically patriotic and unapologetically a Constitutionalist.”

“Thomas urged the students, as challenging as it is currently and as increasingly difficult it will be in years to come, to not only hang on tightly to their traditional family values but to be willing to defend them in the public square.”

“The greatest lecture or sermon you will give is your example. What you do will matter far more than what you say. I have every faith you will be the beacon of light for others to follow.”

“…Thomas said he doesn’t even recognize the world in comparison to what society was like when he grew up: a time when people were expected to work hard and take responsibility for their actions. A world where faith in God was the norm, not the unwelcomed exception.”

“If we didn’t work, we didn’t eat. If we didn’t plant, we didn’t harvest…There was always to be a relationship between our responsibilities and our benefits. Today, there is much more focus on our rights as citizens and what we are owed. Hallmarks of my youth, such as patriotism or religion, seem more like outliers, if not afterthoughts … We were taught that despite unfair treatment, we were to be good citizens and good people.

Do not hide your faith and your beliefs under a bushel basket, especially in this world that seems to have gone mad with political correctness.2

We are indeed living in a strange land and yet as much as we would like to believe it to be much stranger than times past, the world has always been subject to varying seasons of such strangeness. Jesus lived in just such a season, in a world gone mad. He spoke publicly and loudly of the coming of the Kingdom of God and demanded that those who would follow him, his disciples, do the same. Were they afraid? Certainly. Yet they set their fear aside for the greater joy to come.

As Christians and as Catholics who profess to be as one in the Body of Christ, we are called to serve the Lord, to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ to all the nations, to be a light shining brightly on a hill and a beacon of hope for the world.

The more you are want to hide your faith and your beliefs under a bushel basket the more the devil wins. The more baggage you insist on carrying the further away from the City of God you will be.

Christianity spread quickly throughout the world, not by radio or television, not by social media or through the Internet but by a small band of disciples who believed in Jesus Christ and found courage enough and faith enough to stand up and announce the coming of the Kingdom of God.

Yet we cannot hope to reach the City of God unless we are willing to boldly step forward into the world and invite others to join us on our journey. And we cannot and will not find the courage to invite others to join us unless and until we can rid ourselves of the baggage that now weighs us down and enslaves us. And we cannot break the chains that enslave us to this mortal coil until we place our lives and our souls in the hands of God, trusting in him for our security. Only then will we be truly free; only then will we be able to claim our rightful place in the City of God.

In order to reach the City of God we must be willing to leave behind all that would possess us, enslave us, and chain us to this world. We must replace our trust in man with complete trust in God, for in doing so we will secure our liberty, deserving both and gaining both.


1 Mk 10:21.
2 Teresa Tomeo, Strange new world, Eye on Culture, Our Sunday Visitor, July 3, 2016, p. 17.

About the author: Deacon Chuck

Deacon Chuck was ordained into the permanent diaconate on September 17, 2011, in the ministry of service to the Diocese of Reno and assigned to St. Albert the Great Catholic Community. He currently serves as the parish bulletin editor and website administrator. Deacon Chuck continues to serve the parish of Saint Albert the Great Catholic Community of the Diocese of Reno, Nevada. He is the Director of Adult Faith Formation and Homebound Ministries for the parish, conducts frequent adult faith formation workshops, and is a regular homilist. He currently serves as the bulletin editor for the parish bulletin. He writes a weekly column intended to encompass a broad landscape of thoughts and ideas on matters of theology, faith, morals, teachings of the magisterium and the Catholic Church; they are meant to illuminate, illustrate, and catechize the readers and now number more than 230 articles. His latest endeavor is "Colloqui: A journal for restless minds", a weekly journal of about 8 pages similar in content to bulletin reflections. All his reflections, homilies, commentaries, and Colloqui are posted and can be found on his website: Comments are always welcome and appreciated. He is the author of two books: "The Voices of God: hearing God in the silence" which offers the reader insights into how to hear God’s voice through all of the noise that surrounds us; and "Echoes of Love: Effervescent Memories" which through a combination of prose and verse provides the reader with a wonderful journey on the way to discovering forever love. He regularly speaks to groups of all ages and size and would welcome the opportunity to speak to your group.

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