FOURTEENTH SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME - JULY 07, 2019


My Homily for the FOURTEENTH SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME - JULY 07, 2019
Not (c) but does contain bits and pieces from many sources

FOURTEENTH SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME - JULY 07, 2019

          In today’s Gospel, Jesus addresses 72 people that He appoints to be ministers of His Word, and then He sends them out on their mission to go from town to town preaching the Good News of the Kingdom of God. This is an intriguing Gospel reading to start with, there is a detail at the beginning of this passage that goes by quickly, and we almost miss it. It says: “The Lord appointed seventy-two others whom He sent ahead of Him in pairs to every town and place He intended to visit.” That means seventy-two people besides the apostles, and it has been suggested that the number 72 was chosen to represent all the known nations on earth at that time.

Just who were these 72 missionaries? Where did they come from? What were their names? What was their story, and what ended up happening to all of them? We simply don’t know because they are not mentioned anywhere else in the New Testament. Strange isn’t it? Theologians have suggested that they may actually represent all of us who are called to bring in the harvest along with the apostles, nevertheless, their biblical-identity remains a mystery. 

So, for the moment, let’s imagine Jesus is standing in front of us, speaking to us just as He did to the 72. First He says, “The harvest is abundant…” and how true this is. There are so many people in our world still today, who do not know the love God has for them. All around us are people burdened with anger, despair, addiction, homelessness, and poverty and for many life lacks meaning or has become burdensome. These are the “harvest” that Jesus speaks of, and it is up to us to bring them the hope that we have found in Jesus Christ.

Jesus then adds, “ask the Master of the harvest to send out laborers for His harvest.” And we too need help to reach all these desperate, lonely and lost people, therefore we should be constantly praying for vocations to the priesthood, the diaconate, and the religious life, so that the Word of God can be preached and everyone can receive the sacraments. We ourselves, also need to be committed lay men and women living holy lives that will attract people and convince them of the transforming power of the Gospel message.

Jesus then advises us not to bring anything with us for this mission. He will provide everything we need. When we contemplate bringing the Gospel to others, we might think that we don’t know enough or that we don’t speak well enough and we can come up with a hundred excuses for why Jesus should send someone else, instead of us. However, Jesus is asking us to trust Him completely. In our human weakness, He wants to be our richness and our strength and He is the one who makes all things possible. When we are able to reach someone with the love of Christ, it will be clear to us, and to them, that it comes from Jesus and not from us.

          I think I would be safe to guess that for most of us here today, instead of walking up and down the streets in our neighborhoods, calling people to repentance, we are out, actively living in our world.  We are living out the Gospel in our day-to-day lives, and we do this by raising families, witnessing to our friends at school or at work, and by bringing our faith, hope and charity to those we happen to meet along the way.

          So then, what do Jesus’ words, say to us?  Well, I think the first bit of advice we can take from today’s Gospel is to travel lightly. Jesus tells His disciples “Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals…”  Too many possessions get in our way and become obstacles for how we live and share the Gospel. Yes, we all need a home for shelter, food to eat, clothing, transportation and savings, but unfortunately we can easily allow our time and energy to revolve only around our material needs and possessions. If this becomes our priority then anxiety and worry will consume us.  We never think that we have enough, we never feel satisfied, and then we become shackled to our possessions.

          Jesus is inviting all of us to change our focus. As He tells us in Chapter 6 of Matthew’s Gospel, “Do not worry then, saying, What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?... But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”  When God has the first place in our lives and in our homes, then we can experience His peace. We come to understand that, although we may not have every little thing that we want, God will provide us with all that we need. And, in fact, we really do not need as much as we think we do.

          Another wonderful thing happens when money and possessions take up less of our time and energy. We stop defining ourselves by what we have, by where we live or by how much we make. The world tries to convince us that, by having more and better stuff, we will feel better about ourselves. This is a lie, and this attitude robs us of our peace of mind, convinces us that we are not good enough and makes us jealous of others. In fact, it is diametrically opposed to the plan Jesus teaches for how we should live. It’s OK to have nice things, but we cannot live for them or expect our possessions to give us the peace and security that will only come from our Heavenly Father.

          Jesus’ last bit of advice is “to shake the dust off your feet” [when you are not well received]. In other words, we must move on and not hold grudges against those who reject us.  Jesus does not want us to hold onto feelings of hurt, resentment and rejection. How many times do we lie awake at night going over the list of things that have hurt us and the list of the people involved? … And we either cry, feel sad, or feel anger about what they have done to offend us. Since it takes great courage to tell those who hurt us exactly how we feel, we often find other ways to communicate our resentment either by avoiding them, giving them the silent treatment or worse, talking about them behind their back which turns the tables and makes us wrong!

          Jesus wants to free us from all those hurts of the past. He wants us to shake the dust from our feet and move on, and the first step is to make the decision to forgive whoever has offended us. It may not even be necessary to tell them we have forgiven them, especially if it will injure them, others or ourselves.  We don’t even have to like them, but we do have to forgive, as Jesus teaches us in the Lord’s Prayer to, “forgive those who trespass against us.

          Often the person that we need to forgive the most is ourselves. Perhaps we lie awake at night mulling over what we have done to ourselves or to others, more than what others have done to us. When we struggle with forgiving ourselves, the best way forward for us is to look to Jesus, instead of looking to punish ourselves. Handing over our shame and guilt to Him, with confidence in His forgiveness is the surest path to peace of mind.  It is the most direct route to get past our weaknesses and learn to rely on His strength.

So, my brothers and sisters, may we strive to give witness to the Good News of the Kingdom of God each and every day of our lives. May the Lord Jesus Christ help each of us to “travel lightly”, and to “shake the dust off our feet” as we forgive others and ourselves ... My friends, “Rejoice because your names are written in heaven!”

 

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Readings:

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 102

Reading 1 Is 66:10-14c

Thus says the LORD:
Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad because of her,
all you who love her;
exult, exult with her,
all you who were mourning over her!
Oh, that you may suck fully
of the milk of her comfort,
that you may nurse with delight
at her abundant breasts!
For thus says the LORD:
Lo, I will spread prosperity over Jerusalem like a river,
and the wealth of the nations like an overflowing torrent.
As nurslings, you shall be carried in her arms,
and fondled in her lap;
as a mother comforts her child,
so will I comfort you;
in Jerusalem you shall find your comfort.

When you see this, your heart shall rejoice
and your bodies flourish like the grass;
the LORD's power shall be known to his servants.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 66:1-3, 4-5, 6-7, 16, 20

  1. (1) Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
    Shout joyfully to God, all the earth,
    sing praise to the glory of his name;
    proclaim his glorious praise.
    Say to God, "How tremendous are your deeds!"
    R. Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
    "Let all on earth worship and sing praise to you,
    sing praise to your name!"
    Come and see the works of God,
    his tremendous deeds among the children of Adam.
    R. Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
    He has changed the sea into dry land;
    through the river they passed on foot;
    therefore let us rejoice in him.
    He rules by his might forever.
    R. Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
    Hear now, all you who fear God, while I declare
    what he has done for me.
    Blessed be God who refused me not
    my prayer or his kindness!
    R. Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.

Reading 2 Gal 6:14-18

Brothers and sisters:
May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,
through which the world has been crucified to me,
and I to the world.
For neither does circumcision mean anything, nor does uncircumcision,
but only a new creation.
Peace and mercy be to all who follow this rule
and to the Israel of God.

From now on, let no one make troubles for me;
for I bear the marks of Jesus on my body.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit,
brothers and sisters. Amen.

Alleluia Col 3:15a, 16a

  1. Alleluia, alleluia.
    Let the peace of Christ control your hearts;
    let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.
    R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Lk10:1-12, 17-20

At that time the Lord appointed seventy-two others
whom he sent ahead of him in pairs
to every town and place he intended to visit.
He said to them,
"The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few;
so ask the master of the harvest
to send out laborers for his harvest.
Go on your way;
behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves.
Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals;
and greet no one along the way.
Into whatever house you enter, first say,
'Peace to this household.'
If a peaceful person lives there,
your peace will rest on him;
but if not, it will return to you.
Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you,
for the laborer deserves his payment.
Do not move about from one house to another.
Whatever town you enter and they welcome you,
eat what is set before you,
cure the sick in it and say to them,
'The kingdom of God is at hand for you.'
Whatever town you enter and they do not receive you,
go out into the streets and say,
'The dust of your town that clings to our feet,
even that we shake off against you.'
Yet know this: the kingdom of God is at hand.
I tell you,
it will be more tolerable for Sodom on that day than for that town."

The seventy-two returned rejoicing, and said,
"Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name."
Jesus said, "I have observed Satan fall like lightning from the sky.
Behold, I have given you the power to 'tread upon serpents' and scorpions
and upon the full force of the enemy and nothing will harm you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you,
but rejoice because your names are written in heaven."