Homily (Reflection) for the Fifteenth Sunday of the Year (B) (11th July, 2021) on the Gospel
Ps 84:9-14 (R. V. 8);
Eph 1:3-14 or 3-10;
The Parish Pastoral Council (PPC) of a parish invited the Harvest and Bazaar Committee to give report on their preparations for the year’s Harvest and Bazaar. During the meeting, one of the Parish Pastoral Councillors seemed to be highly against everything they were presenting. He not only commented but also destructively criticized every aspect of their report. Every effort to calm him down proved abortive. At a point, one other member of the PPC decided to fallout with him: “Is it because you think that the preparation for the Harvest and Bazaar does not concern you?” He was about to defend himself when the man went on, “If you gave the Harvest and Bazaar Committee your support they would have functioned better. Allow us to understand them before commending, correcting, or condemning their proposals”.
Topic: Collective Responsibility.
As today’s gospel is being read, many minds go to the clergy and probably few others considered as collaborators in the work of proclaiming the gospel. Many think that these alone are called to preach the gospel. But Jesus said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send labourers into his harvest” (Matt 9:37-38). He also charged the eleven, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations ...” (Matt 28:19). How can all preach the gospel?
Jesus while sending the twelve, “ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but wear sandals and not to put on two tunics” (Mk 6:8-9). Some of these things they are forbidden to carry along constitute the basic necessities of life. He went further, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place” (Mk 6:10) which implies that the mission is neither a few hours’ nor a day’s assignment. Although scripture experts and pastors see this order from the point of view of the urgency of the message but could that be all? Or could it be that the authority over the unclean spirits (v. 7), staff (v.8), a sandal and a tunic (v.9) are sufficient for their journey?
Preachers are sent to preach to human beings. And as a result, preaching the gospel requires hearers otherwise a preacher might be mistaken for a mentally deranged. Hence, Jesus goes further,
Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them (Mk 6: 10-11).
There is need for people to listen to what is preached because “... faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ” (Rom 10:17).
Again, a parallel account of Jesus’ sending of the twelve gives a clue to why the twelve were asked not to go with even the basic necessities, “... labourers deserve their food” (Matt 10:10). In line with this, in his first letter to the Corinthians Saint Paul wrote,
Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in what is sacrificed on the altar? In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel (1Cor 9:13-14).
Therefore, it is not necessary for all to live in the wilderness like John the Baptist in order to proclaim the gospel, cf. Matt 11: 7-15. Those who proclaim the gospel need roof over their heads. Hence, Jesus asked them to stay wherever they are welcomed, cf. Mk 6:10. Again, they need food in their stomach. Hence Jesus also asks them, “Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you” (Lk 10:8). Both the food and the shelter are to be provided cf. Matt 10:10; Lk 10:7. Some go to mission by going while others go by supporting those in mission. Whether one carries the megaphone around preaching or buys one for someone to use it while preaching, or stand at the pulpit or provide the pulpit for another who will stand there to preach, and so on, all partakes in the business of proclaiming the gospel. Everybody must not be ordained ministers but everyone is expected to take his or her part in the ministry. Hence I preferred to refer to proclaiming the gospel as a shared responsibility.
In Saint Paul’s first letter to Timothy we read,
But as for you, man of God, shun all this; pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life, to which you were called and for which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses (1Tim 6:11-12).
My dearest friends who share in the ministry of the Word and sacraments in a special way, Jesus ordered us to take nothing for this journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in our belts; but wear sandals and not to put on two tunics. How many still stick to this order or has it been overtaken by the events of time? Again, although we ought to eat through the gospel but we must be very careful lest we end up not preaching the Word but our stomach? And bearing in mind the command, “If anyone will not work, let him not eat” (2Thess 3:10) how many still deserve food from the gospel? It is an order that we must preach the gospel, “If I proclaim the gospel, this gives me no ground for boasting, for an obligation is laid on me, and woe to me if I do not proclaim the gospel!” (1Cor 9:16). We must follow the example of Saint Paul who said, “What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel” (1Cor 9:18).
In summary, all of us, the clergy, the religious, and the laity must do our parts for the gospel of Christ to blossom and not engaged in destructive criticisms of one another like the parish pastoral councillor we saw in the introductory part of this homily.
Bible Reading: Matt 10:5-15. 40-42; Mk 9:40-41; Rom 10:5-21; 1Cor 9:1-27; 1Tim 6:3-10.
Thought for today: Do you remember that you have a duty to proclaim the gospel and how well do you do that?
Let us Pray: Lord, may the clergy, the religious, and the laity do their parts in the proclamation of the gospel for your greater glory and for our own sanctification – Amen.
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