15 July. 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Amos 7:12-15. Championing justice, Amos is faithful to the task God gave him, even though at first rejected by those to whom he is sent.
Eph 1:3-14. A hymn of thanksgiving to God for the great spiritual gifts he had poured out on us through Jesus Christ.
Mk 6:7-13. Jesus involves the twelve apostles in his own work and sends them out in twos as his representatives.
(by Jack Finnegan)
A number of years ago I became aware of a recurring request when people asked me to pray with them or for them. So often the prayer was for peace of mind and heart, but almost invariably I was really being asked to pray that some awkward person might disappear! Certainly, peace of mind and heart is a wonderful thing, but it has to be based on reconciliation which in turn is rooted in conversion. This is the foundation of the Christian healing of life and relationships. We are all sealed with the Spirit, we are all called by God to live according to His plan, but in practice this means understanding that my healing is as much a question of changed attitudes as it is of anything else. Healing takes place in a variety of ways, in a variety of forms, physical, emotional, spiritual, but Christian healing always involves the whole person in the reality of time and place and so involves attitudes and life style as much as aches and pains and trauma.
This is something we can all contribute to, each in our own way. Each of us can learn to use a little oil, a little gesture, a bit of thought, a smile, a hand. We are limited only by our lack of concern, by our fear, by our forgetting that the Spirit is alive in our midst and that we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing. There is vast untapped potential for good in all of us. It is worth remembering that peace is not just the absence of trouble. It is above all a force, like joy and love, that endows us with the ability to handle life’s difficulties and threats. It’s origins are in God Himself who is named in the Old Testament as Yahweh-Shalom, God of Peace. But here, peace means wholeness, completeness, health, a presence, a reality that God wants all of us to share with one another.
So: prayer with and for each other, bless each other, support each other, forgive each other, touch each other with love and compassion. These are the things that carry healing at their core and they are within everyone’s reach. Of course, healing is a process; like growth itself it takes time, but who is to say what the effect of even a simple gesture or touch may be. I know many stories and so do you. May we all trust God to complete in loving grace what we begin in grace-seeking love.
Seeing the bigger picture
(by Pat Donnellan; from The Furrow, July 2012)
For those living west of the Shannon this Sunday is our big day. We will leave the church with a spring in our step and head for the Connacht Final in the hope that this year will be our year. On the journey stories will be told of great finals and great players.
You know the story of the two football fanatics who are old now and they started wondering if there was football in heaven ! They made an arrangement that whoever died first they would come back and tell the other. As in all good stories one died and went to heaven. The other was half asleep one night when suddenly his friend appeared. ‘Tell me quick’ he said, ‘Is there football in heaven ?’ ‘ Well my friend’, came the response, ‘I have good news and bad news. The good news is there is indeed football in heaven. The bad news is we have a match next Sunday and you’re playing full forward !’.
While waiting to be selected for the heavenly team we are all summoned by Jesus to do the best we can ‘to live through love in his presence’ (2nd Reading). In the Gospel ‘Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out in pairs’. Most good work is done with people working together. ‘They anointed many sick people with oil and cured them.’
We all in our own way can anoint and cure. The cure might be more achievable than we realise. When we are weighed down or worried by things that don’t matter we have to open our eyes to a God who helps us to see the bigger picture. Kofi Annan, the UN peace envoy to Syria, tells the story of his last day in school in Ghana. The headmaster put up a large white sheet on the wall and drew in a small black dot. He asked the students what they saw and they said they saw a small black dot. ‘That is your problem’ he said. ‘You see a small black dot. I see a large white sheet. Broaden your vision. See the bigger picture’.
The temptation is sometimes strong to become distracted or dragged down by the small stuff – to spend too much time worrying about things that don’t really matter or situations we have no control over. The challenge for the follower of Christ is to open our eyes. See the bigger picture.
A Dirty Word
(by Liam Swords)
Periodically, Irish newspapers publish a list of wills. The name and occupation of the deceased is followed by a figure denoting the value of his estate. Invariably, the editor will choose the priest who figures in the upper bracket, to headline the piece. Scarcely the epitaph Christ would have wished for one of his disciples. In Ireland, for almost two centuries, the priest has occupied a dominant – some might say, a domineering – position in society. As a result, he has come in for a fair share of criticism in literature and the media. James Joyce had many predecessors as well as followers. But traditionally, the people were more indulgent towards the short-comings of their pastors. Those who fell victim to the demon drink were more pitied than censored. Those who succumbed to the charms of the fairer sex were more gossiped about than condemned. The harshest criticism was reserved for the money-grasping priest. In this, the ordinary gut-reaction of the people -their sensus fidelium – mirrors accurately the gospel priorities.
Poverty, in the modern world, has almost become a dirty word. We are bombarded almost daily by the media with harrowing accounts of grinding poverty in the Third World. For over a decade, stories of the famine in Ethiopia and the Sudan have reached news saturation-point several times, forcing editors to curtail or withhold coverage for fixed periods. Following that, the Eastern Bloc has drawn media attention, with their lengthening food-queues and empty shelves. The First World too has its poverty stories, with statistics showing the growing numbers living below the poverty line in the “rich man’s club.” No great city in the Western world would be complete without its poverty belt where people in the low- or no-income sector are confined within their poverty trap. The resulting plague of crime and drugs has obliged governments, in fluctuating bouts of enthusiasm, to declare war on poverty. Poverty, like disease, must be eradicated.
Small wonder if the virtue of poverty has become tarnished with the same brush. Unlike our ancestors, we are not given to making distinctions. In the popular mind, the virtue stands indicted like its demographic namesake. Even in economic terms, this is little short of disastrous. The reality will continue to ravage the Third World, as long as the First World fails to practise the virtue. They will remain poor, as long as we fail to share our largesse with them. In certain cases the situation is even worse. Recently, the story broke of an Italian shipping company dumping its cargo of dangerous toxic waste in an underdeveloped African state. Having plundered that continent for centuries to raise our standard of living, we now have the gall to fill its empty belly with our waste.
If the Christian West wishes to continue to preach the gospel in Africa and elsewhere, it badly needs to give a more authentic witness to it. If we wish to establish the kingdom of God on earth, we should remember that Christ began its charter with the words: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” When he called his disciples, he made only one demand: That they leave everything to follow him. The only one who refused his-call, the rich young man, did so because “he had many possessions.” As he was sending them out to preach, his first words, as recounted in today’s gospel, were: “Take nothing with you.” And the priest who left behind him as the fruit of his labours a tidy nest egg, failed spectacularly to carry out his Master’s injunction.
First Reading: Book of Amos 7:12-15
Amaziah said to Amos, “O seer, go, flee away to the land of Judah, earn your bread there, and prophesy there; but never again prophesy at Bethel, for it is the king’s sanctuary, and it is a temple of the kingdom.” Then Amos answered Amaziah, “I am no prophet, nor a prophet’s son; but I am a herdsman, and a dresser of sycamore trees, and the Lord took me from following the flock, and the Lord said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’
Second Reading: Epistle to the Ephesians 1:3-14
(or shorter The Epistle to the Ephesians 1:3-10)
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.
Gospel: Mark 6:7-13
He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics. He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.