The mission of the disciples is spoken of by Jesus in terms that, while they could certainly be taken literally, require a symbolic interpretation. The disciples are to go simply on their mission, not taking anything luxurious or extravagant, not bearing in their hearts any preoccupation for the mundane or worldly. They shouldn’t “wear two coats at the same time,” which St. Augustine understands to mean leading a double life. The temptation to put on airs, to cover ourselves on the outside with the right words and actions – while inside we are wearing a different coat – is a temptation to lack trust. Looking like a saint is not the same as being a saint. There are the saints who will be canonized as examples for the faithful of what God’s grace can do in the hearts and lives of those who cling to Him in faith, hope, and love. There are also the saints whose lives look like a mess, will never be canonized, but trusted fully in God’s power working through their weakness and will live with Him forever in Heaven. Refusing duplicity means that my life will become Good News because of the Grace of God – because it will never become so because of me. Humbly accepting weakness and seeking to respond to God’s mercy – because it is Love – will transform us in ways we could never accomplish on our own. May we long for the simplicity that allows us to become saints the way God wants, and not according to our own ideals or aspirations. May the Word of God become our companion and guide on the paths we must tread with Him alone.
Saints Peter and Paul are the two greatest pillars of the Church. Their lives are very different, and this helps us understand from a divine perspective how it takes all kinds – not only of people but also of leaders – to build up the Church. The message of Christ appeals way beyond any narrow segment of humanity, culture, or way of life. We need leaders that lead in very different ways. Let us meditate on the lives of Saints Peter and Paul to grasp how their different styles of leadership bore witness to the Gospel.
St. Augustine gives us a very strange principle to understand the phrase of Jesus about not casting our pearl before swine. “We must be careful not to reveal anything to one who cannot bear it, for it is better that one make a search for what is concealed than assail or despise what is revealed.” How are we to understand this in the context of Evangelization. Jesus gives us the image of the Word of God that is almost and seemingly carelessly scattered everywhere: good soil, rocky soil, the road, etc. He contrasts this image with the pearl: something valuable that ought not be given away easily. When we are sent to bring the good news to people, it is the Word of God itself that we should sow liberally. We ought not distribute as liberally how the Word has become a treasure in our hearts personally. If we reveal to others how suffering and toil with the Word have caused it to become the treasure of our hearts, they may reject it and – because it exposes our vulnerability – injure us in the process. The Word of God is different, it is God Himself who speaks and if we communicate that Word to others, He Himself bears the brunt of any insult or rejection. Pearls are reserved for those who already believe but struggle and find it difficult.