Friends, in today’s Gospel, Jesus equips his disciples for defeating the devil. And the Lord continues to empower them for spiritual warfare.
We are reminded that the battle is not simply with flesh and blood, and not merely on the psychological or political stage, when Jesus says to the chief of his Apostles: “Simon, Simon, listen! Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail.”
That the new-born Church will be in for a fight becomes clear in the surprising words of Jesus: “But now, the one who has a purse must take it, and likewise a bag. And the one who has no sword must sell his cloak and buy one.” He is setting up a contrast between these instructions and those that he gave them when he sent them on their missionary way earlier in the Gospel.
In giving the first set of directives—carry no bag, no traveling staff, no sandals, etc.—he was encouraging in them an attitude of radical dependency upon God; in giving the second—including the recommendation to carry a sword—he is readying them for a struggle.