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cappie

​FIFTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

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cappie

This week’s Gospel and the one for next week describe how Jesus sent the disciples to minister in his name and the disciples’ return to Jesus afterward. In commissioning the Apostles in today’s Gospel, Jesus gives them, and us, a preview of His Church’s mission after the Resurrection. Like Amos in today’s First Reading, the Apostles are not “professionals,” who earn their bread by prophesying. Like Amos, they are simply men summoned from their ordinary jobs and sent by God to be shepherds of their brothers and sisters. 

Again, this week, we hear the theme of rejection: Amos experiences it, and Jesus warns the Apostles that some will not welcome or listen to them. The Church is called not necessarily to be successful, but only to be faithful to God’s command.

 Mark’s Gospel tells us that Jesus sent out the Twelve. These twelve were selected from among Jesus’ disciples and named by Mark in chapter 3. Mark notes that these twelve are also called “apostles.” The word apostle means “one who is sent.” The number twelve is also a symbolic number, representing the twelve tribes of Israel. His instructions to the Twelve echo those of God to the Twelve Tribes of Israel on the eve of their exodus from Egypt. The Israelites were sent out with no bread and only one set of clothes, wearing sandals and carrying a staff (Exodus 12:11; Deuteronomy 8:2–4). Like the Israelites, the Apostles are to rely solely on the providence of God and His grace. By naming twelve apostles, Jesus shows his mission to be in continuity with the mission of God’s people, Israel.

Jesus’ instructions to the apostles are very specific. He repeats the mission that they are sent to preach and to share his authority to heal and to drive out demons. Jesus sends them in pairs, establishing his mission as a communal Endeavor. Jesus also instructs them to travel lightly, without the customary food, money, and extra set of clothes. These instructions mean that the Twelve will be dependent on the hospitality of others, just as Jesus depended on others to provide for his needs.

Jesus continues to send us into the world as his disciples. But like the first disciples, we are not sent alone. Jesus has given us the community of the Church, which strengthens our life of discipleship. The Christian message can only authentically be proclaimed in and through the community of faith that is the Church. In our work with others, we build this community of faith and can invite others to share in it.

What we can see from Paul's letter to the Ephesians is that the words we speak are words that call people together in Christ. They are part of God's plan to " he would bring everything together under Christ,” So the words that the prophet speaks are grace-filled words, that bring all things together in Christ. Rather than the polarizing discourse that we frequently hear today, Paul urges us to work to unite people in God's plan to bring everything together in Christ.  

So, what Jesus is asking is that we encourage people to embrace the joyful vision and understanding of life that Jesus proposed and lived – what he called the kingdom of God. Jesus is asking that we not let money, possessions, and worries occupy our thoughts and drain our time and energy. Jesus is asking that we not allow ourselves to be frozen by failure when people do not respond, but that we move on to the next person, just as Jesus did.
 
While we can easily disregard the instructions that Jesus gives in Sunday’s Gospel as impractical, we need to see what was behind them. Once we know that, then we will know what Jesus most wants us to do. In other words, doing our best to share the message of Jesus!
 
 

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