Sunday, June 15, 2008

11th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

Ex 19:2-6a
Ps 100:1-2, 3, 5
Rm 5:6-11
Mt 9:36--10:8

In this Sunday's Gospel reading, notice how strongly Jesus was moved by the needs of the people. His heart ached for them, because he knew they felt troubled and abandoned. What's surprising, however, is how he responded. Although he likened them to sheep without a shepherd, and elsewhere he describes himself as the Good Shepherd, instead of taking action as that shepherd, he immediately turned to his disciples and called them to do the work!

Today, there are many who suffer troubles and feel abandoned because not enough is being done to help them. So, when we see a parish lacking a pastor, or a ministry lacking a shepherd, or a need lacking a ministry, we do as Jesus tells us to do: We beg the master of the harvest to send forth more laborers. And Jesus taps us on the shoulder and says, "YOU do it."

We ask God to increase the number of priest vocations, because there are too few men entering the seminary. And Jesus says, "Don't just pray, get up and do some of the work! You have a vocation, too!"

The reason why many people feel that God hasn't answered their prayers (and has therefore abandoned them) is because Jesus responds to their needs through us — and too few of us are giving him a free hand to use. We don't have enough lay people assisting the priests we do have. We don't have enough Christians standing up against injustices and other evils, and so of course, to many who suffer, God seems distant and uncaring.

Jesus was one man serving a whole nation, and he accomplished much in only three years because of the apostles who assisted him. The harvest needs collaborators. There are a few things that only a priest-shepherd can do; everything else can be done by his assistants, under his guidance, so that all needs are met. This is how the Church is made whole and holy and effective in evangelization.

Questions for Personal Reflection:

What has Jesus asked you to do as an extension of himself? Which of his gifts are you using to help in the work of his kingdom? Which gifts has he given you that you're not using? Why not?

Questions for Community Faith Sharing:

What would our Church be like if everyone became an extension of Jesus using the gifts and talents that God has given them? How would this change the face of your parish?


Today's Scripture readings make today a kind of "vocation Sunday." The Gospel certainly fits such a theme. There, Jesus calls his 12 disciples, after he has witnessed the crowds, people who are troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd. He gives the Twelve a call to proclaim the Kingdom.

What did these 12 men hear or see in Jesus that made them follow him? If we knew the answer, we'd have a better clue to our own response, perhaps—and be better able to respond to Christ today.

I see clues for motivation in today's first reading. Like other recent selections from the Hebrew Scriptures, it comes from the story of Israel in the desert. Moses has gathered the people at the foot of Mount Sinai, where God wants to offer them a covenant. God is looking for their response. The motivation God offers is: See how I freed you from the Egyptians? Remember what I did at the Red Sea, and how I got you this far, sustaining you on this desert journey?

In other words, take a good look at what God has done. Can we do the same as we're invited to a "vocational response" in today's liturgy? What has God done for you lately? As you attend Mass this weekend, take time to ponder that question—and then make your response to God's call.


•You have seen for yourselves how I treated the Egyptians and how I bore you up on eagle wings and brought you here to myself. (Exodus 19:4)

•The LORD is good: his kindness endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations. (Psalm 100:5)

•Christ, while we were still helpless, yet died at the appointed time for the ungodly. (Romans 5:6)

•At the sight of the crowds, Jesus’ heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9:36)

•“Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons. Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.” (Matthew 10:7,8)


•As Jesus instructs the disciples to be evangelizers in Matthew, are we to take the same message to heart?

•Are the unchurched the “troubled and abandoned” of the 21st century? How can this group be reached? Is the soul reached through the body or the body reached through the soul?

•How can anyone claim to spread the work of God without helping the poor in material and the poor in spirit?

•“Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons.” In this instance, may Jesus’ command to be taken both literally and figuratively? Explain this command to evangelization?

This is crucial: we must be converted—and we must continue to be converted! We must let the Holy Spirit change our lives! We must respond to Jesus Christ. And we must be open to the transforming power of the Holy Spirit who will continue to convert us as we follow Christ. If our faith is alive, it will be aroused again and again as we mature as disciples.

The fruits of evangelization are changed lives and a changed world—holiness and justice, spirituality and peace. The validity of our having accepted the Gospel does not only come from what we feel or what we know; it comes also from the way we serve others, especially the poorest, the most marginal, the most hurting, the most defenseless, and the least loved. An evangelization that stays inside ourselves is not an evangelization into the Good News of Jesus Christ.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home