In the Gospels we read about when Jesus sent out the apostles two by two. Yet when we consider this part in particular:
Gospel Mk 6:7-13
Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits. He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a –no food, no sack, no money in their belts. They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic.
Now when we read the Gospel of Matthew in chapter 10 he says to not take a staff or sandals.
Now there are those who would tell us that these two statements contradict one another. But this is not true. You know the gospels can all be read in about 4-6 hours if you read them straight through. Is this all Jesus did; 4-6 hours worth of work? Did Jesus only send his apostles out one time?
Certainly not. One time he sent them out with sandals and staff, another time he sent them out without sandals and staff. So when you should hear stories that some tell of the supposed contradictions in the gospels, believe none of it. But this isn’t what I wanted to focus on.
Why does Jesus send them out with nothing?
This was on the job training. Jesus is pushing them out into the street with training wheels and is telling them – you need to trust that you will be taken care of.
St. Bede says that preachers today should likewise trust in God, that they should take no thought for supplying their needs in the present world, and he should feel certain that these will be satisfied. These temporal things should not be a concern of his or he might start providing less of eternal things to others.
This is a great example of the beatitude – blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
There is no better way to be detached from material things than to simply give them up. We can’t take them with us when we die and they tend to tie us down to earth. So Jesus here is helping them live out that particular beatitude. Religious take a vow of poverty which accomplishes that first step toward perfection and eternal life. Jesus here is helping the apostles to live that out.
The purpose, I think, of at one time sending them with staff and shoes and another time saying – even leave the staff and shoes behind is this:
He is meeting the apostles where they are in their spiritual life but calling them continually to something deeper. God meets us where we are, but continually asks us to love Him more than we love the world. When Jesus first meets Peter, he doesn’t tell him that he will be crucified upside down. He hints at it slowly until 40 years later, Peter is glad to do so.
We all know how important shoes are and a staff would be used for support but also for defending yourself. To give these up would be a big step to both them and us.
In a spiritual sense St. Augustine has an interesting insight into why they were told at that one time TO wear sandals. (these sandals were padded under the foot but open to the air on the top) he says this: Mark, by saying that they are to be shod with sandals or soles, warns us that this mode of protecting the feet has a mystical signification, that the foot should neither be covered above nor be naked on the ground, that is, that the Gospel should neither be hid, nor rest upon earthly comforts.
So just as with sandals on that are open so as to see their feet, yet padded so as to not touch the earth; living the gospel is the same way: Our life is Christ is something that we should never hide, and at the same time our life is one that should not be attached to this earth.
These kinds of insights come from commentaries, especially from the ones that I have compiled that are for sale to the RIGHT. These are not my own commentaries per se, but are a compilation of 4 commentaries put together into one, beginning with the Church Fathers to present day.