Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sunday word, 12 Jul 2009

15th Sunday of the Year (12 Jul 2009)
Am 7. 12-15; Ps 85; Eph 1. 3-14; Mk 6. 7-13
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.

We may not see much for us in the Word today. Amos was one of the prophets, Jesus sent out apostles with him to prepare his way by preaching repentance and St. Paul praised and thanked God in an extended way in his letter to the Ephesians, a single letter originally meant to be read in many churches.

Popes write encyclicals for the world church. We don’t preach dramatically like Jesus’ apostles or cry out like the prophet Amos. Popes, apostle, prophets: they all seem out of our league, don’t they? Nevertheless, the scriptures do address us. The common denominator is that God chose and continues choosing unprepossessing people like us.

Amos was a shepherd and pruner of trees. Many of the apostles were fishermen. All St. Paul’s learning and religious zeal were no antidote to his human weakness. God’s way of operating throughout the ages has been consistent: to choose ordinary people for the extraordinary desire of God, the salvation of the world. Jesus fulfilled God’s desire as he set ordinary people in motion to do just that: Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits. He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick.

If we think in our western and modern ways, we miss how extraordinary was the authority Jesus gave them. You and I think nothing of traveling. However, in the ancient Mediterranean one would not travel unless one had to leave the extended family and the village because both provided a social network and the necessities of daily living.

Further, the ancient Mediterraneans believed in nonhuman beings and ranked them according to power: our God—the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—other gods, archangels, angels, spirits and demons. Jesus’ people called demons unclean spirits, who disturbed human well-being in all manners of ways. Jesus, authorizing his apostles to have power over unclean spirits, gave them new power.

You and I may be mesmerized by power and miss how Jesus sent them: two by two. Each was an extension of the apostolic band, and each was an extension of the other’s extended family, providing the social network so important to living a human life.

Jesus transformed our humanity by his death and resurrection. Jesus sends us, too, ordinary people that we are, to continue his transforming work. By baptism we
share in the priestly, prophetic, and royal office of Christ [Jesus] and therefore have [our] own role to play in the mission of the whole People of God in the Church and in the world. [What is our mission? We]...bring[] the gospel and holiness to [all], and [transform all] things through the spirit of the gospel./1/
We are one another’s support to continue the mission of Jesus. Travel today, as popes, presidents and ordinary people like us testify, is not the limited or even dreaded activity of Jesus’ culture. Our closeness, support, encouragement and companionship are just as important for us as in his culture. Perhaps it is more important because we tend to privatize faith and to go it alone because our culture values individualism so highly. Yet, God continues to work through individuals, calling them first into communion with Jesus and with one another so that we may allow Jesus to send us for the sake of our world.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week, pause, aware of being in the presence of the Trinity. Ask the apostles to present you to Jesus. Speak to Jesus your hesitation at being his apostle today. Affirm your trust in Jesus and ask for the grace to infuse your world with Jesus’ Spirit by the way you live. After several minutes, close your prayer by saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer, which is our going-on-mission prayer. Saying it keeps us close to the apostles, whose mission we extend as we put into practice our faith, hope and love.

1. Second Vatican Council, Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity 2.
Wiki-images of the Prophet Amos and the Twelve Apostles are in the public domain.

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