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Contents: Volume 2

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

7/14/2024


 
The

15th
Sunday

(B)

 

1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP
2. --
Paul O'Reilly SJ
3. --
Dennis Keller
4. --(
Your reflection can be here!)


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1.
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Sun 15 B 2024

Sometimes the familiarity of the USCCB approved translation of Scripture sinks deep in my soul. Our second reading talks about one of those times, "being blessed with every spiritual blessing" . The Gospel story is another, the story of Jesus's instructions when he sent the disciples out two by two.

Other times, even with the sense of this solid anchor, I need to go deeper. That is when I also read a more contemporary translation from the Message to get a sense of what those who have not had the benefit of decades of Scripture (like my 15 yer old granddaughter) might find encouraging. Although sometimes I find a conflict, most of the time it is really helpful.

Let 's go back to the instructions Jesus gives to these disciples this week. I also remember when they (and we) are told to stick it out and persevere in spreading the Good News even in difficult places and in difficult times. How do we decide ? This second translation reads in part, " Do not think you need a lot of extra equipment for this. You are the equipment."

For me, this puts the power and authority to preach squarely where it belongs... no, not on them (or us) but from the One who gives the power and authority to preach in the first place. It also connects to the first reading where Amos replies to Amaziah, again in part from this other translation: "I never set out to be a preacher, never had plans to be a preacher." Amos then clearly states , God took me off the farm..... !" , clearly putting God as the Initiator as does the more official translation which says "The Lord took me from following the flock... " Reading both together hit home easier, at least for me!

The second reading pulls it all together for me, again after reading both translations. We indeed have been offered every spiritual blessing! Those blessings come through Scripture, through Jesus , through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, but especially because of the Divine Plan made long, long ago, a merciful Plan fueled by constant caring and grace.

In a world fraught by conflict and division, following such a Plan is soothing, hopeful, and life-giving. I (nor you) do not have to "re-invent the wheel" to find new ways to solve age-old problems that have a modern twist! The Answer, the Anchor, is still the Same, in familiar language or modern terms.

Hopefully, we will be able to do as those first disciples did, for ourselves, for those whom we encounter, and for generations hereafter. "They preached with joyful urgency that life can be radically different." Let us pray that our lives can be radically different as we focus on the continual love and mercy of the Divine.

Blessings,
Dr.
Lanie LeBlanc OP
Southern Dominican Laity
lanie@leblanc.one

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2.
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Year B:
15th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Learning to Read the Gospel)

“Take nothing for the journey...”

A little while ago, someone was trying to teach me how to read the Gospel. You might think that, having been a Jesuit for thirty-five years and a priest for more than twenty, that is something I really ought to be getting right by now. But she is a teacher of English and Drama and she felt that, if I could read the Gospel better during the Mass, it would help people to come to know, understand, appreciate and love the Scripture better. So she tried very hard with me for three hours and you may judge whether or not she succeeded by what you’ve just heard.

But, at one point, she said something which I thought was very significant – she said:
“you have to proclaim the Gospel, not as if your life depended on it, but because your life depends on it”.

And I thought – how very true!
But for the Gospel, I would not be here today.
But for the Gospel, none of you would be here today.
But for the Gospel, we would all be doing something completely different.
All of our lives, our entire existence, are completely moulded by this Book – and not merely by the Book, but by the Word of Life, the Word of God, that it contains. It is not too much to say that our lives depend on this Book.

It is that awareness that our lives depend on the Word of God which takes Amos from being a nobody – a poor shepherd and a planter of sycamore trees to being a prophet with the courage, the honesty and the integrity to go and stand before the notorious anger of King Amaziah and tell him the things that God needs him to hear.

And that too is the message that Jesus gives the Twelve as they go out. “Take no purse, no haversack, no staff for the road.” They do get to wear sandals – they are going a long way and Jesus is not stupid. But they are to depend entirely on the love of God as it is expressed in the kindness and hospitality of the people they meet. The Twelve, as we know, go out and do precisely as they are told, although they are aware of the opposition they will meet. And they do it, not as if their lives depend on it, but because their lives depend on it.

And that, I think is something which helps us today. We may think of ourselves as little more than the contemporary equivalent of shepherds and planters of sycamores – our lives may not seem to have much meaning in the greater scheme of things. But, because Jesus is the Word of God, because of the life of Jesus within this book, we are the prophets; we are the apostles that Jesus is sending out into His World. At the End of this Mass, when we say “Our Eucharist is ended, go in peace to love and serve the Lord. Thanks be to God”, we are thanking the Lord that, just as much as Amos and the Twelve were, we too are being sent out to proclaim the Word of God in every word that we utter and every action that we perform and in our relationship with every person we meet. Let us pray that this coming week, we may faithfully proclaim His Word and that when we leave them, we may leave them just a little happier than they were before they met us.

It’s a worrying thought, but our Lives may be the only Gospel some people will get to read. So, as St Francis of Assisi is supposed to have said: “Preach the Gospel in season and out of season - use words only if you really have to”.

Now, let us stand to profess that Faith, not as if our lives depend upon it, but because our lives depend on it.

Paul O'Reilly SJ <poreillysj@jesuit.org.uk>

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3.
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Fifteenth Sunday of Ordered Time

July14, 2024

Amos 7:12-15; Responsorial Psalm 85; Ephesians 1:3-14;
Gospel Acclamation: Ephesians 1:17-18; Mark 6:7-13

 

This past Sunday’s gospel proved the point that a prophet is not listened to in his hometown. And that prophet was Jesus. The narrative certainly proves that Jesus was considered entirely human and even perhaps an illegitimate son of Mary. A man was never identified as the son of his mother – always of the father. The first reading this Sunday proves that prophets were not listened to in another nation. Amos is that non-prestigious man from the land of Juda who God sent to prophesize in Israel. That land split off from Juda when the son of Solomon levied even more taxes on the whole nation than had his father. That is how the northern kingdom of the Israelites was formed and identified as Israel. The narrative about Amos’ mission happened in the eighth century BCE. Following the breakup of the Kingdom David created, corruption became a widespread practice in Israel. Even today, when there is chaos and confusion, there are thieves and charlatans who take advantage of the situation. Idolatry, especially worship of the fertility gods Baal and Astarte became popular and was endorsed by the kings and queens of Israel. It was to that idolatrous land God sent Amos to warn them of impending disaster in the form of the Assyrian Empire. The Assyrian Empire ravished Israel, sending four fifths of the population into exile, scattered in five other conquered nations. Before this, Amos came to Israel. The Israelite priest at Bethel, Amaziah, told Amos to go home to Judea and earn his living by prophesizing there. Amos insisted he was not in the prophet’s guild at Jerusalem’s Temple. The Lord took him from shepherding and trimming the fruit of sycamore trees, sending him to warn Israel of the consequences of their idolatry. Do we practice idolatry, expending our time worshipping wealth, power, fame? The world judges our dignity and worth, our importance by accumulations and power over others. Influence peddling twists and shreds truth like a food processor does fruit and vegetables. All of this for the sake of gain for self.

 

The second reading from Ephesians focuses on what God does for us. Paul says God proves God’s blessedness by loving us so completely. The Father sent his Son to heal, to inspire, to conquer the specter that is death. The sending of his Son was not a reaction to humanity’s sinfulness; it was the Father’s plan even before the foundation of the world (universe?). Humanity is not God’s creation destined to live out life and then be consigned to return to the earth. God’s special love for humanity is adoption as children of God – sons and daughters called to share God’s life. We are given time that is present and future. Our past is locked in our memory and psychology insists our history impacts DNA. Because our experiences are carried with us in the present, we have only the present and the future. Our experiences contribute to our growth or decay. In sharing with the Son’s teaching and Sacraments, we are chosen to accomplish what God has planned, both within ourselves and in the environment in which we are incarnated. We, through our suffering in concert with the Christ, bring about a new heaven and a new earth. And as we grow or decay in our spiritual life, we become citizens of that new heaven and new earth. If we decay, we become a burden, a destructive force in that new creation. This is not a pious thought, a wonderful thing to think about. This is the mission of every person baptized into the Community of Discipleship that walks the pathway of Jesus. Family, careers, and gathering in Assembly are part of it all. Communion is for us a necessary food that heals what is broken in us, nourishment to grow our spirits into the life of God and uniting to others and to the Lord’s family.

 

The gospel describes the first mission journey of the apostles. We are to thrive and flourish in the time and place in which we live. We are to preach – the majority of us by example and responding when asked about the faith that sustains us. We have been told we can depend on the Spirit to speak truth. The apostles spoke about repentance – like the Baptizer. They healed those whose spirits were broken and frayed. We do the work of the apostles. In this we are prophets. We do not predict the future in imitation of some media preachers. The timing is the Father’s choice. As the prophets of old demonstrate, we preach by how we live and how we respond to others with the truth. Pope Francis’ Laudato Si provides us clarity. His encyclical is for each of us. (A copy can be found on the Vatican Website.) It can and shocks some faithful. At the end of each Mass we are commissioned: “Go, you are sent!” What we have heard and what we have celebrated is what we are sent to exemplify.

 

We are baptized into a community of faith. In the prescribed ritual the Presider, the priest or deacon, announces the baptized are priests, prophets, and kings (queens). Priests bless and direct activity and achievements to God in thanksgiving. Prophets interpret current events in relationship to God – always speaking of repentance. Kings – an unfortunate statement as our experience of kings speaks of authoritarianism and tyranny. Kings are akin to the work and concerns of shepherds. When God in Genesis speaks of humanity having dominion over all creation, that dominion is meant to be the dominion of a shepherd over his/her flock. Care for creation applies God’s Justice to all creation. God’s justice and will is that creation has what it needs to flourish – not mere survival, but flourishing. May peace, justice, and flourishing be the joy and energizing activity of each of us!

 

Dennis Keller <Dennis@PreacherExchange.com>

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4.
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Volume 2 is for you. Your thoughts, reflections, and insights on the next Sundays readings can influence the preaching you hear. Send them to preacherexchange@att.net.  Deadline is Wednesday Noon. Include your Name, and Email Address.

-- Fr. John Boll, OP



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