Dependence on others

Several years ago, as a second-year seminarian I went to Calcutta for two months with one priest and two other seminarians. I was keen to have an experience of working directly with the poor. I was living with Mother Teresa’s Missionary Brothers of Charity whilst I was there. Towards the end of my time I picked up a virus and was laid up in bed for 3 days. I was moved to a room where I was sharing with one other Missionary Brother of Charity who was also sick at the time. On the third day I said to him that I planned to get up because I needed to wash my clothes as I was running out. Another brother came into the room soon afterwards and the brother who was with me asked him to wash my clothes. He was happy to do it but initially I was not. I started to protest that I could wash my own clothes. The brother who had been sick with me pointed to the other brother and asked me one question “if this brother was sick in bed would you wash his clothes if he needed it?” I knew I would. Therefore, I handed over my clothes to the Brother who was willing to do it and thanked him for his kindness. When I reflect on that it is a small example of how I resisted being dependent on others.

 it true for many if not all of us we want to be independent wanting control over everything and resisting help from others? Recently I read an online article where it stated that “in 2016 just under one in four households (24.4%) were single person households. That’s up from one in five in 1991.” If wanting control over everything is true for us, we might not like this Sunday’s Gospel very much because Jesus asked his followers to do the exact opposite.

When he sent out his disciples Jesus told them to take no purse, no haversack and no sandals. He also tells them to accept the hospitality of others and accept whatever food and drink they have to offer.

This Gospel is not about Jesus asking us to become destitute beggars. What Jesus is asking is to allow people to take care of us. The end of the Gospel tells us that the seventy-two came back rejoicing. It seems to me it was a result of being dependent and experiencing much kindness from the people they had met along the way who were only too glad to help.