July 10-11, 2021
- OPENER After 50 years of marriage, spouses know one another very well. Dinner over, Madge asked Harry to bring her a bowl of ice cream. She added, “You might want to write it down,” realizing that Harry was becoming forgetful. Harry said, “No, I can remember! You want some ice cream.” Madge replied, “Please add some whipped cream. You might want to write that down also.” “No, no, my memory’s fine! You want a bowl of ice cream with whipped cream.” Then Madge said, “Can you put a cherry on top? “Got it!” Harry snapped. “Write it down,” she repeated, and again he said, “No, I’m fine. You want a bowl of ice cream with whipped cream and a cherry on top.” Harry disappears into the kitchen, but is gone for over 30 minutes. When he comes out, he has a plate of bacon and eggs and juice. Madge stares at the plate for a moment, then looks at her husband and says, “You forgot the toast!”
- Today’s Scripture readings are about being sent by Christ to continue his mission on earth. We think we hear clearly what that mission entails, but are we really comprehending all that God expects from us as disciples? In the case of the prophet Amos, by trade a tree trimmer and shepherd, his message to the Israelites living in the Northern Kingdom, Israel, falls on deaf ears. They simply cannot accept his condemnation of their infidelity to the Covenant Moses conveyed to them from God. “Turn from your evil ways”, Amos tells them, “or face destruction at the hands of the Assyrians”. The priests and people reject his warnings and are soon put to the sword or exiled.
- In our Gospel account from Mark, Jesus commissions the Twelve apostles to go into the countryside and proclaim that the Kingdom of God is at hand. I imagine that at that moment they felt overwhelmed…perhaps even frightened for their lives! The Kingdom of God, St. Paul explains, is not about eating and drinking, but about justice, peace, and joy given by the Holy Spirit. “Take your staff, sandals, and a simple tunic, and nothing more”, Jesus instructs the apostles. To each home that welcomes you, remain with them and eat whatever they offer. Share what you have seen me do and heard me teach! If you encounter hostility, shake the dust of that place from your feet in condemnation.
- We know that as disciples of Jesus Christ we, too, are being sent into a hostile world to share the Good News. But as Christians, this is our primary mission and purpose in life. So it is appropriate to ask, “To whom is it that you and I are being sent at this time, on this day, in this place, to share the Good News that the Kingdom of God is at hand? Is it to a neighbor struggling with an illness, a broken relationship, or the loss of a loved one? Is it to a child or grandchild who’s left the Church? Is it to a member of our parish who continues not to attend Mass…not for health reasons, but because they have gotten out of the habit of coming? Or perhaps we are being sent to the growing numbers of people, the NONES, those good people who affiliate with no religious group?
- I believe that, regardless of our age, there are people we are supposed to reach out to and share our faith. For many of us, the thought of sharing our faith may make us uncomfortable—like the Apostles likely were. Perhaps we are self-conscious, think we don’t understand enough about our Catholic teachings and practices, or fear rejection. But remember how the Apostles returned rejoicing after allowing the Holy Spirit to work through them to heal people, drive out demons, and change hearts. (pause)
- We hold within OUR hearts the Holy Spirit, by Whom all things are possible. As disciples of Jesus, let us go from here with firm purpose and confidence that we can share our faith with others, be a source of joy to all we encounter, and fulfil our Christian calling to be a light to the world.