FIFTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME



    “ Jesus called the twelve and began to send them out  two by two, and He gave them authority over the  unclean spirits.”
Does this bring memories to you? After an extensive training course or long years studying in university or college or seminary, the time has come for you to go out and actually do what you have been trained to do? , What about the first job? In today’s gospel we are not told how the disciples felt or if they were apprehensive about Jesus’ commission to  them.  What we do know is that He gave them responsibility to act without his being present.  Indeed human formation requires more than observation and training: it requires action. 
Jesus obviously trusted them.  Interestingly, they were not really ready for mission; they had so much still to learn. Yet their formation could happen only through their own activity, and through the questions that their activity would raise and make real for them. This is also our mission and commission, like the apostles we are being sent out, each according to our ability and training.  It seems to be part of the human condition, that learning occurs mainly in the doing.
Perhaps one aspect of the message of the Kingdom is that imperfection does not disqualify us  from mission or from responsibility.  Why? Because through Jesus, The Holy Spirit works in us. On the contrary, imperfection can proceed towards further growth only through the assumption of responsibility.  Aren’t you amazed at the way Jesus thrusts them into the ministry? He did not give them power to perform little miracles; like we do with our new starters.  No, He gave them authority over the unclean spirit. Because He knew that “He who lives in them is greater than the world”
 In the issues that matter, people are always out of their depth.  Their mission was not to recruit further disciples.  It was to further the Kingdom.  The Kingdom was what mattered.  The Kingdom is what matters still. The purpose of the Christian community was to proclaim God's Kingdom, and other interests of the community were subordinate to that. The Christian community was not an end in itself, but a means to an end, and so it is still today. We are here to cast out demons and to proclaim and increase the Kingdom Of heaven.
Jesus was also clear about the nature of their involvement.  They were to engage with, to name and to confront the evil of their world with the energizing power of Jesus.  This confrontation would occur not with the weapons of evil, the futile effort to destroy evil with violence.  Jesus shared with them his authority, the 'outflowing of being' and of life.  Jesus had confronted untruth with truth, violence with respect and love - they were to do the same.
He sent them out in twos, perhaps for two reasons.  A reminder that we never stand alone, and that no one should boast of their own power. They were to travel light and without money, an outward sign of humility and trust on others’ generous nature.
Given the sense of urgency behind their mission, they were not to waste time waiting for any who refused to embrace the message to have a change of  heart. The gesture of shaking off the dust was not original, but was a cultural way of showing disdain.  As Jesus would say “those who have ears let them hear” or “do not cast your pearls to swine.” Here Jesus is teaching us possibly the toughest lesson to learn, to be humble to let The Holy Spirit do the work and for us not to exercise control or force on anyone.
“ May the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ enlighten the eyes of our heart that we may know the hope to which we are called” Ephesians1. 17-18

FOURTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME



The Gospel today speaks of the visit of Jesus to Nazareth and describes the obstinacy of the people of Nazareth, who refuse to acknowledge his divine wisdom and power. Mark 6:2-3: Speaks of the reaction of the people of Nazareth towards Jesus. The people of Capernaum had accepted the teaching of Jesus (Mk 1: 22), but the people of Nazareth did not like the words of Jesus and were scandalized, the gospel says. For what reason we ask? Jesus, the boy whom they had known since He was born, how is it that now they are offended by him instead of thanking God for such an extraordinary blessing? Well, they were people like us and in general humans are reluctant to accept wisdom from their juniors or relatives. Of course they are well aware that Jesus has already made a great impact on many outside his hometown, and they were possibly hoping that he would improve their status. They were looking for him to put Nazareth on the map with his stardom but according to their ways, customs and expectations and preferably with their help. This young man, Jesus, does not seem to need any advice from them. This was too much for them to handle. They were focused on themselves, on maintaining their superiority and control. How often does this happen to us, when someone offers us a fresh new perspective on something? Such as looking at life or a problem in a whole new way? Or even looking at the way we practice our faith in a whole new way? Do resist because we think they cannot add anything to what we already know or have accomplished. Do we resist because our way is the better way? We think? How often do we resist to open our hearts to the truth that God seeks to speak to us, sometimes through people we know and in places we thought we knew like the back of our hands? What about the fact that when we don’t believe in the gifts of another, we disempower them and we tie their hands behind their back, which means they cannot reach out to us. This was the loss of the people of Nazareth. They saw themselves as the descendants of David, the word Nazareth is derived from Hebrew meaning branch or a root. This is the reason they took offence to Jesus, they saw themselves, at the very least equal but more likely superior to Jesus. Jesus had a reaction to the attitude of the people of Nazareth. He said “a prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown, and among his own kin, and in his own house”.  Even if Jesus wants to do wonders for them, He cannot, and He is amazed at unbelief. Jesus never forces himself on anyone, and neither does he abandon anyone. Thus before he leaves His community “He laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. Then he went about among the villages teaching.” “If today you hear God’s voice harden not your heart”.
“Taste and see that The Lord is good; bless the man who seeks refuge in him” (Psalm 33.9)

THIRTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME


    In today’s Gospel reading we can meditate on more than one healing miracle that Jesus performed. However, for the sake of time and space let us reflect awhile on the healing of the woman, who suffered from hemorrhaging. Do you ever feel like the bucket of your life has a hole in it? That it leaks faster than you can fill it? No matter what you do, how hard you work, how hard you try, you just can’t fill it up. The outflow is greater than the inflow. If you know what that is like, perhaps you know the hemorrhaging woman in today’s gospel. We don’t know her name. We don’t know where she came from. She could be any one of us. She’s simply another face in the crowd. What we do know is that she is sick, desperate, and in need. She has been bleeding for 12 years. In all that time no one has been able to help her. She’s spent all she had: time, money, energy. We are left wondering “how long can she go on?” The woman’s condition is more than physical. She’s losing more than blood. She’s losing her life. That is a spiritual matter. Life and death always are. At one level this is a story of an individual woman. At another level it is the story of the human race. Her story is our story. It is as much about men as it is woman. Drained of life, we go through the motions. We’re alive but not really living. How many people in this day and age feel disconnected, isolated, and alone. Often we try to convince ourselves that once this or that happens everything will be better. As soon as I have enough money, as soon as I fix this problem etc.  We all have our “as soon as.” This misconception is the false hope that the world offers us. Today, however, is different. Something in her has changed, shifted. She has heard about Jesus. Maybe she heard about his teaching and His miracles one thing is for sure she is set out to find Him. Deep within she knows, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” She touched his cloak. In that moment she was transfused with and by the power of God. It was enough to touch. The connection was made and a relationship established. Life no longer leaked out of her but flowed into her.  “Who touched my clothes?” Jesus asked. He was calling her out. He would not allow her to remain a nameless face in the crowd. He named her, “Daughter,” and sent her on the path of peace. She is now a daughter. She has an identity, a place, and a relationship, a new creation in Christ Jesus. She has been healed and made whole. We too can know ourselves to be called, “Son” or “Daughter.” We too can walk the path of peace fully alive. If we but touch His clothes we too will be healed. How do we do that? We begin by looking at the clothes Jesus wears. Sometimes He drapes himself in silence, solitude, and prayer. Sometimes it’s mercy and forgiveness, sometimes it’s thanksgiving and gratitude. Other times it’s compassion and generosity. Always it is self-giving love. The very attributes and characteristics of His life are the clothes He wears and the clothes we are to touch. Wherever we are, whatever we are doing there is always life draining out of us, let us always touch the cloak of Christ. Connect to Him in our own life. Let His clothes transfuse us with His life, His love, and His power. Let us reach out and touch and be healed, be made a new creation in Him, touch and go in His peace.