Fifteenth Week of Ordinary Time
Amos 7:12-15; Ps 85: 9-10, 11-12, 13-14; Ephesians 1: 3-34; Mark 6:7-13
Sr. Margaret Proskovec, ND
We learn from the Prophet Amos, that those who speak for God don’t always get to pick their audiences. This gets to be tough when they meet with resistance to God’s words of healing and truth. The Psalm response reminds us that God proclaims peace, that God’s ways are kindness, truth, justice, and peace. As people of faith, called to proclaim the Good News, we are sent to prepare the way for this to happen.
Paul’s letter from prison to his beloved community in Ephesus begins with a blessing. It is grounded in his firm confidence in God’s forgiveness, wisdom, and rich grace that draw us all toward life and unity with one another in Christ.
In the Gospel, Jesus sends out his Apostles to minister the people they encounter. He sends them out with nothing except a companion apostle, a walking stick, and his word.
Reflection: Some time ago, I learned that a synonym for “apostle” is “ambassador” or “representative.” How do I represent the mind and heart of God to others in the ordinary – or not so ordinary – events of daily life? In a reflection by St. Augustine of Hippo, he wrote:
What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of humankind. That is what love looks like.
May this week draw you and the people in your life closer to the heart of God.
Ezekiel 2:2-5 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 Mark 6:1-6a
Each of the readings for this Sunday speak of distress: during the Babylonian exile, within Paul’s own soul, and in Jesus facing rejection by the people closest to him.
Ezekiel, one of the great prophets, was called to deliver God’s word to the Israelites in their time of exile. In this passage, part of his call to be prophet, God tells him that it will not be easy. First he will have to make it clear that there is no escape from going into exile because their own hardness of heart. Once in exile, he will provide the word of hope—what they have lost in community, homeland, and Temple—will be restored. All he knows at the beginning of his call, however, is that he is to deliver God’s word to people who do not want to hear it.
The reading from Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians is his famous meditation on his own weakness. Despite his fervent prayer that God would remove this weakness, it will remain and he will be required to search for its meaning in his life. It becomes part of his witness rather than an obstacle to it.
Finally, Jesus comes to Nazareth with a world of good news and he is rejected for his lack of exotic credentials. Who is he to be delivering a message from God? He had obviously expected a different reception since the gospel records that “he was amazed at their lack of faith.”
Today our world is a place where distress faces us on every side. It is essential that we repent of our hardness of heart, listen together to God’s word, take courage despite our weaknesses, and, with Jesus, witness by word and deed to God’s message in times and places of rejection as well as welcome.
Book of Wisdom 1:13-15; 2:23-24 2 Corinthians 8:7, 9, 13-15 Mark 5:21-43
Sunday’s Gospel from Mark has much about which to ponder. Three words popped into my head when I read this account. Plan. Touch. Faith.
Jairus had a PLAN to seek out Jesus when his daughter suffered a life-threatening illness. He wanted to persuade Jesus to come to his home and cure her. The PLAN of the woman afflicted with hemorrhages was to sneak up behind Jesus in the crowd, and TOUCH his cloak for a cure.
Instantaneous cure was her reward! Later on, Jesus TOUCHED the “dead” child of Jairus, taking her hand to life her up. She not only woke up, but walked around!
FAITH played a major role in these miracles. Jesus even emphasized the importance of FAITH when he told Jairus, “. . . just have FAITH,” when the people discouraged him from bothering Jesus since the girl had already died. And to the hemorrhaging woman, Jesus assured her, “Daughter, your FAITH has saved you.”
Three questions for your reflection: What PLAN regarding a problem, difficulty, or concern do you bring to God? When and how have you gotten “in TOUCH” with Jesus regarding that problem? How strong is your FAITH when you pray or take action to deal with the difficulty?
In Jesus’ words to Jairus, “Do not be afraid; just have faith.”
Reflection for the Birth of John the Baptist…June 24, 2018 by Judy Moe McCallum, Notre Dame Associate
God promised Zachariah that his wife Elizabeth would bear a son in her older age, and when she conceived, it was Elizabeth who fully understood and believed the miracle. When asked the child’s name, she did not offer the name of her husband, but the name John, a name ordained by God. Her husband, Zachariah, who was without speech, woke up to the wisdom and deep faith in God of his wife and wrote on a tablet: “His name shall be John,” and God restored his speech. What wonders, then, proceeded as the child grew to become John the Baptist who would baptize Christ.
What promise have we been given by God? How can we, like Elizabeth, come to hear and understand the promise? How can we follow the command of God as Elizabeth did, even when it goes against custom? To not name a child after the father was a brave step for her. But in her faith, she was able to follow God’s command, even amidst the murmurings of the people around her. And she was able, as a wife and now as a mother, to inspire her husband to follow God’s word. How do we give ourselves up so wholly to God as Elizabeth did? How do we find the same deep faith as Elizabeth’s that we might announce in joy the path that God has chosen for us? How can we, like Elizabeth, inspire others to rejoice and answer God’s call for them?
Theresa Wiggs—Notre Dame Associate
This week, in our first Reading, Ezekiel proclaimed our Lord’s words in these images: a weak cedar sapling grows strong on a mountain top, tall trees becoming low, low trees rise, strong trees wither, and withering trees produce fruit. These powerful images remind us of our dependence on our loving God's help and guidance. When we are "weak" enough to accept God's help, we too can do great things.
This lesson is helpful as I work too with my friends that are Sudanese refugees. Finding affordable housing is a big challenge, so I am reminded to ask God to guide my efforts.
In the Letter to the Corinthians we are called to rely less on “the body” and more on faith. Sometimes we must see past the obvious to see what God has in store for us. If we truly, “walk by faith and not by sight”, we leave our eyes and hearts open to God’s will.
Mark’s Gospel this week has Jesus speaking in parables of seeds scattered and grown. The tiny mustard seed grows into a large, strong plant with branches capable of offering shelter. I have always loved this imagery. As we are in nature this week, let us look at each tree and shrub with new eyes. When we are faced with a challenge, let us remember, a ‘mustard seed’ of faith or love can grow, and grow, and grow, when nurtured with faith in God.
Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, what God has ready for those who love Him. I first heard the song “Eye Has Not Seen” over 20 years ago at a funeral for an aunt. Initially I thought “I don’t know this song, how am I going to sing it?” As it turned out, I found it beautiful, easily learned, and it spoke volumes.
Today’s second reading 2 Corinthians 4:13 - 5:1 has this same message – we don’t know what God has in store for us in eternity or in this life, but we know it will be far beyond our imaginations!
Whatever pain, sorrow, misfortune, etc., we have will cease to exist. We are going from darkness into light. Just as we welcome the sun after a stretch of cloudy weather, this new light will be with us for eternity. This is God’s promise to us.
We know, we believe, we wait. . .
Reflection for the Feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ…June 3, 2018 by Sr Barbara Markey ND
(Mark 14:12-16, 22-26)
Jesus knew what it was to be truly human. Because of this, we know in faith that the gift of Eucharist was intended to help us know that God makes a home in our body, heart and soul. The food and drink we take literally keeps us living, so the bread and wine we take in Eucharist reminds us that we are alive in God.
Jesus was body and blood. He knew pain and joy, knew acceptance and complete denunciation. Eucharist is food for life for those with faith in Christ Jesus and allows us to come back to this holy nutrition in order to continue on our journey. This unexplainable food, to which we are continually invited, gives us hope and allows us to continue trusting that God is always with us and for us. We don’t have to earn this food. We seek to be faithful, but we know that God is faithful to us even if we are not faithful to him. The body and blood of Christ is there for us as we seek to return to him.
As we celebrate the feast of Eucharist, let us know that Jesus was human and that he gave us this gift of his body and blood in order nourish us with his life and love.
The first Sunday after Pentecost is Trinity Sunday. It honors the most fundamental of Christian beliefs – a belief in an eternal God, consisting of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – the Holy Trinity.
Mystery. In this sense, the mystery presents itself as a supernatural fact revealed by God which, within itself, transcends the natural power of human reasoning. Three persons in one God – not similar but each one different – not identical pieces of the same pie or identical flowers or leaves on the same stem – but each one distinct, and yet all three in one . . . the math just doesn’t add up!
Tradition. Many revered and beloved Catholic traditions are closely associated with the Holy Trinity, including the Sign of the Cross and the prayer of praise – Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Representations of the Holy Trinity are also well-known and wide-spread: the Father and Son shown in human form and the Holy Spirit shown as the figure of a dove.
Understanding. A dear friend (now deceased) once recalled to me how his seminary studies of trying to understand the Holy Trinity almost caused his mental breakdown! The Trinity is a doctrine we affirm but have great difficulty explaining. The idea of one God in Three Persons – three-in-one – is a concept we have difficulty getting our heads around!
While the human mind can never fully understand the mystery of the Trinity, we are able to boldly articulate our belief:
God is three persons in One Nature. There is only one God, and the three Persons of God – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – all are equally God, and they cannot be divided.
Faith. As I try to develop my own understanding of the Trinity, I’m encouraged by theologians to stop thinking of the Trinity as a theological concept, but to keep an understanding that, as followers of Jesus, we are loved by the Father, and led by the Spirit. All three persons of the Godhead are at work in our lives, in the life of our Church, and in the life of this world.
This Sunday’s readings celebrate the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the whole Church and on each of its members. We hear how the formerly wounded and frightened apostles are touched by a mighty wind and tongues of fire that fill them with the Spirit. They immediately leave the room where they waited and boldly go out to share what God had revealed to them with Jews from every nation. Language barriers and divisions are shattered by the Holy Spirit who brings them together.
Like the apostles, we all have wounds and fears that can keep our hearts barricaded and our voices silent until we too are touched by the Holy Spirit. At a recent Notre Dame gathering Sr. Mary Kay reminded us, though, that the Holy Spirit didn’t call Elijah out of his cave into service with a mighty wind but rather with a gentle whisper. We were challenged to identify our gentle whisper and where it calls us.
Mine came just days ago in a very simple way. I have an 11 year old grandson on the autism spectrum who spends an overnight with my husband and me every weekend. I was wallowing in hurt from what seemed like the abandonment of a soul friend when this beloved child propped himself on my lap and began sharing a computer game he was playing with me. My hurt was replaced with love, joy and peace, fruits of the Spirit. I knew my call was to consciously nurture the confidence and joy of this special child.
In the second reading St. Paul tells us that “to each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.” What does the Holy Spirit need to heal in you? How are you called to share the gifts of the Spirit’s love with others?
“Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in then the fire of your love.”
“Love one another, as I have loved you.” In one form or another, Jesus tells us to “love one another” eleven times in the Bible. The Lord does not offer this as a suggestion nor as an option. He offers it as one of the two most important commandments. If we have made an effort to genuinely love one another, we will have gone a long way to living as faithful disciples.
Today’s Second Reading from the First Letter of John could not be more specific on our call to love one another. St. John used the word “agape” to make clear the kind of love. This love from God is self-giving without expectation of a return. This is the kind of love God feels for us. Too often we may do something with the expectation of getting something back. We need to love the way God loves us. That is what John is trying to teach and explain to us.
Each of us has heard the expression “God is love” countless times. However, have we truly embraced it? We need to sincerely accept that love. In response, it is essential we commit ourselves to loving in the same way. If we do that, God’s love can transform not only each of us but also those around us. This is the love Jesus intends for us. This is the love we must strive to achieve.