• Rev. Lawrence E. Polansky

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

He began to send them out.”

Entrance Antiphon: Ps 17(16):15 – “As for me, in justice I shall behold Your face; I shall be filled with the vision of Your glory.”

First Reading: Am 7:12-15 – “Go, prophesy to My people.”

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 85:9-10, 11-12. 13-14 – “Lord, let us see Your kindness, and grant us Your salvation.”

Second Reading: Eph 2:3-14 – “God chose us in Christ, before the foundation of the world.”

Alleluia: Eph 1:17-18 – Alleluia, alleluia. “May the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ enlighten the eyes of our hearts, that we may know what is the hope that belongs to our call.” Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel: Mk 6:7-13 – “He began to send them out.”

Communion Antiphon: Ps 84(83):4-5 – “The sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for her young; by Your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God. Blessed are they who dwell in Your house, for ever singing Your praise.”

On this midsummer Sunday, through the Word of God and our Sacrament of Eucharist, we are reminded that the mission of Jesus was not His alone to accomplish. We often hear about “visions” that others have experienced. From time to time, that may leave us wondering: “How about me? Have I ever had a vision?” Well, I believe that one vision all Christians ought to have is a call to carry on the ministry of Jesus. That is the call or vision of the Holy Spirit conferred upon us when we were baptized and which we accepted as our own at Confirmation.

To give you some background about the First Reading, the King Jeroboam of Bethel wanted to make it more convenient for his people to worship there instead of traveling all the way to Jerusalem to do so. Acting on the Word of God, the Prophet Amos warned that doing so would weaken their focus and endanger their faith. And today, several millenia later, because of the grace of our Baptism, the invitation stands open to carry on the way of the Gospel.

And so … ask yourselves … is it or should it be a matter of convenience or is it a matter of commitment? In the Prophet Amos’ day, Jerusalem was where God’s true temple was located, not in Bethel. The faithful were drawn to the convenience of the local temple and distracted from the proper one. And for over a year, in the midst of COVID-19, we were dispensed from attending Mass. Did you watch the Mass being live-streamed? And I know I am preaching to the choir because you have all returned to physically being present for Mass, but think about it … for over a year did live-streaming and the dispensation lead people astray or did it bring us closer to eventual increased presence when the local churches reopened? I think by looking around at Mass attendance, you have your answer. The global pandemic has brought many challenges. Pray for an increase in faith and a return to celebration of the Eucharist in church.

When we were sealed with the Sacrament of Baptism, something wonderful happened to us. In today’s Second Reading, Saint Paul spoke of the “seal.” What does that mean to you and yours? Well, in part, I believe (and I hope you all do, too) that God is always with us through the thick and thin of our lives. Ours is an ancient faith tradition that existed before us and will continue after us. Ask yourselves this: How can we make the most of it?

And because we are Baptized, Confirmed, and receive the Eucharist, We (you) are the Church. No matter our path in life, we can continue in the Way of Jesus. Whether we are single or married, no matter our occupation or station in life, the invitation is open to us. The disciples were sent out two by two. We are sent out family by family, person by person, friend by friend, story by story. You and I are extensions of Jesus’ ministry.

And you know what? Hearing the Gospel each week is not enough. Active participation in the liturgy is good, but also not enough. We are invited each week to carry the message with us and make it part of our daily lives. Only then is the Gospel truly alive. The exit doors of a church are in many ways its most sacred part. Leaving … walking out of the church each Saturday night or Sunday morning without living out the Gospel of Jesus Christ once you are outside is an empty participation. Living out the Gospel has always taken courage. Our rich history is full of stories of those who gave their lives for Christ, and those who dedicated the rest of their lives in service of it. Listen for that whispered quiet invitation of the Holy Spirit. The Church lives on in mysterious, beautiful ways. It is never too late to begin again. Let grace happen.

People in the ancient northern kingdom of King Jeroboam were reminded by the words of Amos to stay true to Jerusalem, their spiritual home. Saint Paul reminds us that we are sealed by the Holy Spirit. We are challenged to stay true to our faith as well. Jesus’ mission is entrusted to all of His disciples from His days on earth over 2,000 years ago to the present moment.

May the holy Communion we share with one another, whether in person or spiritually, give us the strength and courage to carry on our mission as disciples of Jesus Christ each and every place we go, each and every day of our lives.

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