In an age when we travel by train, bus, car and plane we tend to take luggage for granted. I attempt to travel light if at all possible and usually come home again with things I never needed, and if I am in the car it is tempting to say 'This might be useful' and pop it in! If I travel by plane I like to have everything with me in hand luggage only, it makes it so much easier when you arrive at your destination and have not got to wait around until it comes through from the plane.
A friend of mine went on a European tour last summer and lost her suitcase in the hotel, it eventually turned up hours later just as she had given up all hope of getting it. Sometimes luggage goes to the wrong destination and you could be in Italy or somewhere and your case ends up in Canada! How this happens with modern technology is a mystery. Sometimes you never see your case again.
Jesus urged His Disciples "Take nothing with you for the journey" (S.Luke 9.3) and I read recently that the late Cardinal Basil Hume wanted no personal property (which is usually the case with a monk) and was unsure whether or not to accept the honour given him by the Queen of the Order of Merit. He said "I want to arrive in the Lord's presence empty-handed". In our Lord's day most people travelled on foot and heavy baggage was not possible, it was an advantage.
Today, excessive concern about baggage and possessions distracts us from the things that really matter. When Jesus urged His Disciples to travel light, He wanted them free from all worldly attachment and to concentrate on the task of mission. I sometimes get very up-tight about the endless synods and committees in the Church and parish today, when we seem to be spending so much time and effort on things that are really not important. I notice in the Diocesan Directory the amazing amount of committees that some clergy seem to be on with a great list under their names, I wonder they have any time for priestly duties. I make no boast, when I say I always try to avoid meetings if possible, as many of you know! Travel light!
We are empowered for Mission! Our Lord said: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations" (Mt 28.l9). That has to be our priority as we come into the Third Millennium, and it certainly is what I have tried to do in the last thirty years as a priest and I hope it is your priority too? To be distracted is to be halfhearted and we lose heart in trying to communicate the Gospel of Christ. Why don't you come along to our Alpha meetings soon? If we know our Faith we are equipped for Mission and Service! Now that is important.
With my blessing and prayers.
Fr Malcolm Ferrier
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