15th Sunday in Ordinary Time B – July 14, 2024

 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time B – July 14, 2024

Amos 7:12-15; Ephesians 1:3-14; Mark 6:7-13

 

Theme: Our Mission is to Be with Jesus, Represent Him, and Minister in His Name

Last Sunday’s Scripture readings dealt with regection. Jesus in the Gospel, Ezekiel in the first reading, and Paul in the second reading experienced rejection and lack of faith in their mission of teaching the Word of God. Our Holy Mother Church invited us to meditate, on the one hand, on how we treat our fellow humans (priests, religious brothers and sisters, deacons, and lay ministers) who carry out the mission of Jesus in our midst and on the other hand, how can our attitude and faith be when we experience the same rejection, especially from our own people. Today, we meditate on our mission to evangelize God’s people. Because of the lack of faith he encountered in his own town, Jesus, in our Gospel, realized it was urgent to evangelize the people, so he sent his disciples two by two on a mission. He instructed them not to focus on materials but on evangelization. Our first reading gave us an example of Amos, who strongly rejected Amaziah’s suggestion to him to prophecy for “earning his bread.” In the second reading, Saint Paul explains to the Ephesian believers, including all of us, God’s plan of salvation, fulfilled through Christ.

Our Gospel passage follows the story about Jesus’ Rejection at Nazareth (6:1-6) we heard last Sunday, and it precedes the story about Herod’s Opinion of Jesus (6:14-16). The historical context of our story is that the lack of faith Jesus experienced among his own people motivated Jesus to urgently evangelize the people of the surrounding villages of his hometown. Our text is a narrative account. V. 7 introduces our story by showing Jesus sending his twelve apostles on a two-by-two mission. Vv. 12-13 conclude it with comments on how the mission was successful. Vv. 8-11 constitute the body of the text in which Jesus gave them all instructions to observe while on their missions.

Mark tells us that Jesus summoned his Twelve Apostles and began sending them on a two-by-two mission. He shared with them his authority over unclean spirits (v. 7). Sending the disciples on a mission here is the third step in their discipleship curriculum. They were first called (1:16-20), then set apart to be with Jesus (3:14), and finally sent on a mission (6:7). So, in Mark’s Gospel, Jesus called his Twelve and continues to call us today for three reasons: (1) to be with him, (2) to represent him, and (3) to minister in his name.

The first reason Jesus called his disciples was to be with him. Before they were sent, we saw in Mark’s Gospel that the disciples were first with Jesus and learned from him in words and deeds (see chapters 4 and 5). Jesus continues to call us today. Our first mission is to be with him. To be with Jesus means to learn from him, to listen to him, and to become one with him, which means to be “holy and without blemish before him,” as Saint Paul says in our second reading (Eph 1:4). The sacraments (especially the Eucharist and Confession) and good works enable us to always be with Jesus. The other two reasons for our mission (to represent Jesus and to minister in his name) will not be possible if we do not first be with Jesus, learn from him, listen to him, and become one with him.

The second reason Jesus called his disciples was to represent him. The lectionary omitted v. 6 b from our Gospel passage, which says that Jesus himself went to the villages in the vicinity teaching. However, the mission is urgent. Jesus himself experienced a lack of faith in his own town and decided to evangelize all people. That is why, in our text, he commissioned his Twelve two by two to represent him where he intended to be. So, six groups of the apostles represented Jesus in six different villages at the same time. Jesus’ mission continues to be urgent until today. From our baptism, Jesus called us to represent him wherever we live. To represent Jesus is not necessarily preaching God’s Word. Instead, it is to let people see Jesus, listen to him, and experience him through how we live out our faith. Today, the bishops of our Catholic Church are the successors of the apostles. One bishop cannot serve all the parishes in his diocese at the same time. That is why the bishops mandate the priests in the parishes to do the work of God in their own names. Likewise, the priests also appoint the lay ministers to carry out the mission of Jesus together in the parish where they are assigned. This mission is also extended to our families, where parents share their authority with all the members in the house so that together, we build the kingdom of heaven on earth. Let us represent Jesus where we live.

The third reason Jesus called his Twelve was to minister in his name. On the one hand, Jesus shares with them his authority over unclean spirits and empowers them to preach repentance and cure the sick. On the other hand, he instructs them not to focus on material needs. He prepares them for eventual rejection by the people they will minister to. In this case, their reaction should not be violent, but they must leave and shake the dust off their feet in testimony against the people who will refuse to listen to them (vv. 7b-11). In our baptism, Jesus shared with us his authority as he did with his disciples and empowered us to minister to our brothers and sisters and cure physical and spiritual illnesses. We pray that the medical personnel be filled with divine knowledge to eradicate diseases and save people’s physical lives. We also pray for the Church leaders to continue to be inspired by the Holy Spirit in their mission of preaching God’s Word and saving people’s souls. We pray for all of us so that we may repent and preach repentance to our brothers and sisters. For us to be able to minister in his name, Jesus calls us not to focus on material needs. The prophet Amos, in our first reading, is our good example. Amaziah advised him to prophesy for “earning bread.” He strongly rejected Amaziah’s idea of working for God in exchange for payment. Amos and Jesus teach us that material needs should not be our focus in our ministry. Let us minister in Jesus’ name by depending totally on divine providence.

Mark tells us that the Twelve apostles went off on their mission, preached repentance, drove out demons, and anointed and cured many sick people. We, too, let us go on a mission and minister to our brothers and sisters. May the liturgy of this Mass enable us to be with Jesus, represent him, and minister in his name wherever we live. Amen.

Rev. Leon Ngandu, SVD

 

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