Thoughts on the Readings for the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B) 2018

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and paste it into your browser.
http://usccb.org/bible/readings/071518.cfm 

In our Gospel this weekend, we are told that Jesus sent out his disciples “two by two, and gave them authority over unclean spirits.”   He also instructed them to take “nothing for the journey, but a walking stick --- no food, no sack, no money in their belts."  They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic.  He said to them: ‘Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave.  Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them.’  So they went off and preached repentance.

This Gospel reading is taken from chapter 6 of Mark’s Gospel which is not even the half way point in his Gospel, so why would Jesus send his disciples out at this point in his ministry?  I think there are at least two reasons why Jesus would do this.   1)  He wanted his disciples to experience what it would be like to preach and heal in his name.  This would be there responsibility after he was no longer with them, so what better time to do this then when he was still with them and could encourage them and help them understand what they were to do.   2)  I also think, though, that Jesus sent them out at this time and in this manner (taking nothing with them) so they would realize that it was by God’s power and authority and not their own that they were able to do what they did.   I say this because along with their mission, Jesus gave them “authority.”  And he wanted them to know that it was because of God’s bounty and by virtue of the authority he had given them that they were sent forth to preach and heal in his name. 

Our first reading this weekend from the Book of the Prophet Amos, shares the theme of the Gospel. Amos is clear with Amaziah, the high priest of Bethel, that he did not choose to be a prophet.  Rather, he was chosen and empowered by God:  “The Lord took me from following the flock, and said to me, Go, prophesy to my people Israel.”   

In our second reading this weekend, Paul reminds the Ephesians (and us) that we have been chosen by God “to be holy and without blemish before him.”  

Questions for Reflection/Discussion:

  1. Every now and again I slip into the bad habit of failing to remember the most basic fact of our existence, and that is that everything I am and have comes as a gracious gift from a loving God.  What helps you to remember this? 
  2. Have you ever felt called and empowered by God to do something?
  3. What helps you to live a holy life?   
     
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