In the Gospel for the Fifteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Jesus commissions his disciples.  “So they went off and preached repentance.  The Twelve drove out many demons, and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them” (Mark 6:  12-13).  Jesus empowers the Twelve to proclaim God’s Kingdom in word and deed.  They preach repentance and cure the sick.  Their mission is an extension of the ministry of Jesus.  Jesus empowers all the Baptized to carry on his mission.  Christians participate in the ministry of Jesus by what they say and do.  A father reassures a son disappointed by a rejection letter that good things will happen.  A nurse’s aide cleans a soiled patient who is dying.  How do you go off and carry out the mission of Jesus?

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In the Gospel for the Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Jesus hometown rejects him. Back in Nazareth, Jesus began to preach. Initially amazed, his hometown neighbors became belligerent.  ” ‘What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands!  Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon?  And are not his sisters here with us?’  And they took offense at him Mark” (Mark 6: 2b-3).  The townspeople could not believe God was working through this hometown boy.  They resented him preaching to them.  I have resented the advice of others.  I thought I knew better than them.  Sometimes I have even thought I knew better than God what was good for me.  I only succeeded with my plan if it was God’s plan.  Any good I accomplish, God accomplishes through me.  Does God accomplish mighty deeds through you? Why? Why not?

In the Gospel for the Thirteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Jesus heals the hemorrhaging woman.  Reaching out to Jesus in a crowd, she touches him.  Immediately she is cured.  “Jesus, aware at once that power had gone out from him, turned around in the crowd and asked, ‘Who has touched my clothes?’ …  The woman, realizing what had happened to her, approached in fear and trembling.  She fell down before Jesus and told him the whole truth.  He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has saved you.  Go in peace and be cured of your affliction’ ” (Mark 5: 30, 33-34).   Jesus cures those who have faith in his power to heal.  I was praying for a parish friend for healing from a bone marrow transplant.  I have faith in Jesus.  Yet I was so troubled when he died.  I wanted him to recover.  I am praying now for his family for healing from their grief.  Do you believe in the healing power of Jesus?  Why? Why not?

In the Gospel for the Solemnity of the Nativity of John the Baptist, Zechariah names his son.  “When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child, they were going to call him Zechariah after his father, but his mother said in reply, ‘No. He will be called John.’  But they answered her, ‘There is no one among your relatives who has this name.’  So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called.  He asked for a tablet and wrote, ‘John is his name,’ and all were amazed” (Luke 1: 59-63).  God intervenes in naming John.  More than coincidence that Zechariah and Elizabeth, whom he can’t hear, both name their son, John.  Everyone rejoice that God’s favor rests on the newborn whose name means Yahweh has shown favor.  God has chosen John, from the moment of conception, to preach conversion and repentance.  When my middle son was born, my wife and I still had not picked out a name.  Holding him for the first time, she said he looks like a “little Johnny”.  We named him Jonathan.  God helped us name him.  God’s favor rests on him and on all of us.  We rejoice over God’s incredible love and mercy.  Inspired by God’s unbelievable love, we strive to live the gospel way of life.  How has God’s love changed your life?

 

 

 

In the Gospel for the Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, Jesus tells the Parable of the Growing Seed.  “This is how it is with the kingdom of God; it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land and would sleep and rise night and day and through it all the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how” (Mark 4: 26-27).    The Kingdom of God is growing.  As disciples of Jesus, we plant the seeds.  God does the work.  God guides the growth of our loving acts of kindness.  My mother was a compassionate woman.  She suffered from depression, childhood abuse, and widowhood.  She visited those sick in the hospital or grief stricken at the funeral home.  Her loving acts of kindness comforted others.  By God’s tending, the seeds of our love for others will sprout and grow.  How has God brought forth abundance from the seeds of love you have planted?

In the Gospel for the Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Jesus is at home with his disciples.  The crowd outside announces the arrival of his family.  Jesus looks “around at those seated in the circle [and says], ‘Here are my mother and my brothers.  For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother’ ” (Mark 3: 35).  Jesus welcomes us all into the family of God no matter our relatives.  He shows no partiality to those of powerful, prominent, or important families.  Jesus includes the privileged and poor alike.  He acknowledges as his brothers and sisters everyone who does the will of God.  Doing God’s will is following the example of Jesus.  Loving people when they are hard to love is doing God’s will.  Edwina Gately welcomes prostitutes off the streets of Chicago into Genesis House.  They are her sisters in Christ.  Do you do the will of God?  How?

In the Gospel for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, Jesus celebrates the last Passover meal with his disciples.  “While they were eating, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, gave it to them, and said, ‘Take it; this is my body’ ” (Mark 14: 22).  During this final meal before his death, Jesus gives new meaning to the Passover bread.  Bread keeps the body alive.  Jesus’ body gives God’s life and love to all who believe.  Sharing bread with his disciples,  Jesus invites them to also share in his sacrificial death.  Following his example, they are to sacrifice themselves for others.  Whenever Christians celebrate Eucharist, they seek the spiritual nourishment of the love of God.  They also profess their desire to give of themselves for others.  As bread broken and shared, they share God’s love with others.  Spouses dedicate their lives to one another.  Adult children make sacrifices to care for their aging parents.  Parishes give time, talent, and treasure to provide food, clothing, and shelter to single mothers and their children.  How do you share yourself with others?

In the Gospel for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Jesus commissions his disciples.  “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28: 19-20a).  God sent Jesus on a mission to create a new covenant relationship of love with God’s people.  Jesus’ mission is God’s mission.  Jesus entrusted his mission to his disciples.  Through Baptism, Jesus gives us authority to make disciples in God’s name.  Disciples love others into discipleship.  How do you demonstrate you are on a mission from Jesus to love others in God’s name?

In the Gospel for Pentecost Sunday,  Jesus gives his disciples the Holy Spirit to carry out his mission.  ” ‘As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’  And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,  ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.  Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained’ ” (John 20: 21b-23).   As God breathed life into Adam, Jesus breathes eternal life into his disciples.   God recreates us through Jesus.  Our new life empowers us to forgive ourselves and one another.  I tried to be a good Catholic by doing all the right things.  I felt like a failure.   Then I realized God loves me even if I fail.  This experience of God’s loving forgiveness made me more compassionate towards myself.  I also became more compassionate towards others who struggled to do the right thing.  How has God breathed into you the new life of forgiveness?  How have you breathed it into others?

In the Gospel for the Ascension of the Lord, Jesus commissions his disciples to proclaim the gospel everywhere.  “These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages.  They will pick up serpents with their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them.  They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover”  Mark 16: 17-18).   Jesus empowers his disciples to preach and heal in his name.  He reassures them of God’s protection from danger.  God will protect them from poisonous snakes and any physical harm.  Jesus empowers all the baptized to act in his name.  He assures us of God’s loving protection.  I have hesitated in loving others.  I have been poisoned by the fear of rejection, pain, and other negative personal consequences.  The power of Jesus encourages me to keep on loving others anyway.  God will protect me from harm.   When have you taken a risk in loving others?  How has God protected you?