Two by Two, Stronger than Words

Week of July 12, 2015

Today Jesus sends the twelve off to proclaim the Kingdom of God. He does so in a very inefficient way. He sends them off two by two. More territory could be covered if He sent them out individually. Things could go more quickly and they could cover more ground if they were all alone, but that is not how it happened. Jesus told them to go out two by two. Many scripture scholars have reflected upon this passage as an insight as to how the Kingdom comes alive in the lives of the people. It was important not to be so enthralled by the words the disciples spoke, but to be enthralled by how they loved one another. To say the message of the Kingdom is about love and respect is one thing, but to live it is even more profound. We can witness a couple who is in love when they celebrate the Sacrament of Marriage, but it is another thing to witness a couple who has been in love after 25 years and who still live it out.

On my first trip to Africa, I visited Kenya. It is a place where relationship and conversation is valued. When I arrived, I went to the bank to change some money. The bank teller took my passport and travelers check and went to get approval. On the way she encountered a fellow worker and they had a conversation. Then when she got to the supervisor’s desk she sat down and began to talk. Meanwhile, I was left wondering if I would ever see my passport again. Thirty-five minutes later, with steam flowing from my ears, the check was approved and I could then proceed to another line to get my money exchanged. That night while I was staying with the Maryknoll Fathers, I spoke to them about the situation. They all had a great laugh and began to tell me how in Kenya, the value of conversation and family is more important than getting the job done. It is part of their culture. They explained to me that in their culture, if a relative came to visit, the family does not go to work. Instead, they stay home and share time with their visitor. Sometimes it would cost them their job, but they trusted another job would come along. It is considered offensive to leave the home when guests arrived. In our culture, we find difficulty getting children and adults to put down cell phones at a table, much less give days of listening to others. Faith is to be lived. It is not efficient; it is real. How we treat one another matters. It is the message that is stronger than words.