The Fifteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time Scripture Readings First Amos 7:12-15 Second Ephesians 1:3-14 Gospel Mark 6:7-13 Prepared by: Fr.

James Cuddy, O.P. 1. Subject Matter
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God made us to be holy Everything that we need to respond well to God’s invitation to holiness will be provided for us in his loving. Moreover, he gives his followers the power to cooperate in his own plan of salvation, drawing others into the saving relationship with him that we already now enjoy.

2. Exegetical Notes

First Reading: Amos is treated with contempt and exiled from Bethel for prophesying that the king would die by the sword (cf. 7:11). He is no professional prophet, but a lowly shepherd who supplemented his income by manual labor with the sycamores. His vocation to prophesy comes from the personal intervention of the Lord. Second Reading: A hymn of praise to God for the plan of salvation he as devised and brought to fulfillment for the benefit of man and all creation. St. Paul presents a truth almost too wonderful to bear: before the foundation of the world, God had already chosen us and set us apart for a particular purpose, i.e. holiness. Gospel: When Christ sends the disciples out two by two, it isn’t just a matter of having some company or added security. “Two witnesses are required in any life and death situation (cf. Deut. 19:6). Preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ is preaching about spiritual life and death.” The disciples are given the power to do what only Christ can do, i.e. casting out unclean spirits and curing the sick. Thus their action in his name is an extension of his own work. The Lord’s injunction to take nothing with them can be seen from two different perspectives. First, it points to the need to be free from attachments to worldly things in order to be singleminded in one’s proclamation of the Gospel. Second, it calls the preacher to rely on the Providence of God who calls him to preach in the first place.

3. References to the Catechism of the Catholic Church

52 God, who ‘dwells in unapproachable light’, wants to communicate his own divine life to the men he freely created, in order to adopt them as his sons in his only-begotten Son.3 By revealing himself God wishes to make them capable of responding to him, and of knowing him and of loving him far beyond their own natural capacity. 257 God freely wills to communicate the glory of his blessed life. Such is the "plan of his loving kindness", conceived by the Father before the foundation of the world . . .. It unfolds in the work of creation, the whole history of salvation after the fall, and the missions of the Son and the Spirit, which are continued in the mission of the Church. 2626-27 Blessing expresses the basic movement of Christian prayer: it is an encounter between God and man. In blessing, God's gift and man's acceptance of it are united in dialogue with each other. The prayer of blessing is man's response to God's gifts: because God blesses, the human heart can in return bless the One who is the source of every blessing.Two fundamental forms express this movement: our prayer ascends in the Holy Spirit through Christ to the Father - we bless him for having blessed us; it implores the grace of the Holy Spirit that descends through Christ from the Father - he blesses us. 305 Jesus asks for childlike abandonment to the providence of our heavenly Father who takes care of his children's smallest needs . . . 306-07 God is the sovereign master of his plan. But to carry it out he also makes use of his creatures' co-operation. This use is not a sign of weakness, but rather a token of almighty God's greatness and goodness. For God grants his creatures not only their existence, but also the dignity of acting on their own, of being causes and principles for each other, and thus of co-operating in the accomplishment of his plan. To human beings God even gives the power of freely sharing in his providence . . .. Though often unconscious collaborators with God's will, they can also enter deliberately into the divine plan by their actions, their prayers and their sufferings. They then fully become “God's fellow workers” and co-workers for his kingdom.

4. Patristic Commentary and Other Authorities

Saint Jerome: “It is asked how anyone can be saintly and unblemished in God’s sight. . . . We must reply that Paul does not say He chose us before the foundation of the world on account of our being saintly and unblemished. He chose us that we might become saintly and unblemished, that is, that we who were not formerly saintly and unblemished should subsequently be so.” Saint John Chrysostom: “‘You have been chosen,’ he says, ‘in order to be holy and unblemished before his face.’ . . . He himself has made us saints, but we are called to remain saints. A saint is one who lives in faith, is unblemished, and lives a blameless life.” Saint Bonaventure: “ God created all things not it increase his own glory, but to show it forth and communicate it.” Saint Irenaeus: “The glory of God gives life; those who see God receive life. For this reason God, who cannot be grasped, comprehended or seen, allows himself to be seen, comprehended and grasped by men, that he may give life to those who see and receive him. It is impossible to live without life, and the actualization of life comes from participation in God, while participation in God is to see God and enjoy his goodness. The glory of God is

man fully alive; moreover man's life is the vision of God: if God's revelation through creation has already obtained life for all the beings that dwell on earth, how much more will the Word's manifestation of the Father obtain life for those who see God?”

Dei Filius (Vatican I): “This one, true God, of his own goodness and almighty power, not for increasing his own beatitude, nor for attaining his perfection, but in order to manifest this perfection through the benefits which he bestows on creatures, with absolute freedom of counsel and from the beginning of time, made out of nothing both orders of creatures, the spiritual and the corporeal . . .” Dei Filius (Vatican I): “By his providence God protects and governs all things which he has made, reaching mightily from one end of the earth to the other, and ordering all things well. For all are open and laid bare to his eyes, even those things which are yet to come into existence through the free action of creatures.

5. Examples from the Saints and Other Exemplars

Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati stands out as an exemplar in the light of this Sunday’s readings. Once we grasp the truth that we were made by God and destined for holiness, our lives look different. We are different and cannot help but to live differently. This transformation that comes with living for Christ produces a profound joy in the lives of believers and the joy serves as a magnet, drawing others into the same transforming encounter with Christ. Pier Giorgio is a prime example of this. Of this great saint, his sister Luciana says: "He represented the finest in Christian youth: pure, happy, enthusiastic about everything that is good and beautiful."

6. Quotations from Pope Benedict XVI

“Being with Jesus and being sent by him seem at first sight to be mutually exclusive, but they clearly belong together. The Apostles have to learn to be with him in a way that enables them, even when they go to the ends of the earth, to be with him still. Being with him includes the missionary dynamic by its very nature, since Jesus’ whole being is mission.” What are the disciples sent out to do? “The first task is preaching: to give the people the light of the world, the message of Jesus. . . . But the preaching of God’s kingdom is never just words, never just instruction. It is an event, just as Jesus himself is an event, God’s word in person. By announcing him, the Apostles lead their listeners to encounter him.” “Although there may be many so-called gods in heaven or on earth – as indeed there are many ‘gods’ and many ‘lords’ – yet for us there is one God, the Father from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist. These words imply a great liberating power – the great exorcism that purifies the world. No matter how many gods may have been at large in the world, God is only one, and only one is the Lord. If we belong to him, everything else loses its power; it loses the allure of divinity.”

7. Other Considerations

Our adoption as sons of God means configuring our lives to that of Christ. He calls those closest to him to continue the work that he does (most dramatically in the driving demons and

healing the sick). But he also invites them to enter more deeply into his life by suffering. This invitation to preach and minister to the people of God can never be seen apart from the Cross. Recommended Resources Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth. New York: Doubleday, 2007 Peter John Cameron, To Praise, To Bless, and to Preach. Huntington, Our Sunday Visitor, 2001.

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