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Pastor's Letter 20210711 - 11 July 2021 - Working for Christ

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July 11th, 2021

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time  


Jesus send out the 12 to Preach Repentance

A Message from Father †Michael

Today’s Theme:   “Working for Christ

Reflections on Today’s Scripture

God entrusted the precious cargo of the Good News of Salvation, the most important message ever delivered, to a man who knew how to raise a particularly hearty breed of sheep. A Prophet by divine call, Amos was also a “dresser of sycamore trees.” (This avocation required he travel from his hometown of Tekoa—appx six miles south of Bethlehem—to where the trees grew.  There, he would pinch, or nip the fruit at a propitious time, so that it would grow large enough to be worth eating.  It was of poor quality, as fruits go, and served as nourishment for the poor.) Although he was not associated with authority of any organized religion, he seemed an unlikely candidate for the ministry of prophesying.  Nevertheless, he became the champion of the Lion of Judah (Amos 7:12-15.)  Nonetheless, he was rejected by those to whom he was sent.  

Today’s Gospel highlights Jesus’ mandate to the apostles to go into the surrounding areas on a temporary mission to whet their appetite for preaching the message of repentance to the people (Mark 6:7-13.)  We understand this from His admonition to them to go without provisions, except for the power He shared with them.  This reading is of special interest for the different light it sheds on the disciples of Jesus.  Too often, their reaction to Jesus, especially as recorded by Mark, had been one of “incomprehension, confusion and doubt.”  Their active cooperation with Jesus in His crusade against evil in all its forms should encourage all who would be His disciples.  Commitment, service and a worthwhile apostolate are possible even where perfect faith and complete understanding are not present.

Paul’s letter serves as a hymn of thanksgiving to God for the great spiritual gifts He has given us in Christ (Ephesians 1:3-14.)  This speaks volumes about the dynamic presence of the Holy Spirit, blessing, guiding and moving God’s people.

God Has Made Us Responsible

In a sense, belief in God is very uncomfortable, because it increases our responsibility. If there were no God, there would be no point in being responsible—our existence would be one of chaos and eternal “night.”  In fact, it is our belief in God that gives rise to ALL our morality!  

If someone comes to us and asks our help, we should not turn them away with pious words, swaying, “Have faith; take your troubles to God and He will help you.”  In such cases we should act as if there were no God, as if there were only one person in all the world who could help the person—namely, ourselves.  It is at such times that awareness of facilities that are available to help people are familiar to us.  As a chaplain for the Albuquerque Police Department, I carried a pocket reference to such outreach ministries, and when called upon, I could assist needy persons to find a place to stay, a meal, clothing, etc.  Often I would transport them to the facility, in the Chaplain Unit.  (I found this service extremely rewarding, at least in small measure, for I was directing them to a partial, though temporary solution.)  

Reliance on the providence of God is an essential part of Christianity.  But it must not be used as an excuse for doing nothing.  We must not stand back and wait for God to do everything.  God is not going to “come down” and “do it Himself.”  God works through us!   There is nothing patently “wrong” in asking God to right injustices and comfort the suffering—the subjects of many people’s prayers.   But we must realize that expecting “supernatural” assistance is folly.  A better prayer would be to ask the Holy Spirit, within us, to help us find the wherewithal that we all possess, given our store of talents and abilities, and the wisdom to discern the most efficient solution to a neighbor’s (or, our own) problems.  

We are God’s instruments.  That is our dignity, and also our responsibility.  We must become convinced that without our love, others will not achieve the things God has “willed” for them.  We see this so clearly from today’s Gospel.  There we see how Jesus shared His work of spreading the kingdom of God through the apostles.  

Of course, we might ask ourselves, “What can we do?” We have to answer that question for ourselves.  To be a source of light in the world, on doesn’t need to be either rich or famous. All one needs is a “warm heart.”  

Christ Needs You and Me

I’ve read several stories about wartime, where bombardment of churches occurred.  One, in Strasburg, Germany, and another in Korea, both have left a statue of Christ devoid of its hands.  When offers to sculpt replacements for the hands have been offered, the pastors there have declined, in order to send a message to those who would view the statues: “Friends, lend Me your hands!” one placard reads.  Because of that, passers-by are to realize that Christ has no hands except those of the people who view them—no hands but ours to raise the fallen.  Extrapolating further, from the example of the statue: Christ has no feet but ours to seek out the lost; no ears but ours to listen to the lonely; no tongue but ours to speak words of comfort.

Many in authority have difficulty involving people in a work, especially so-called “ordinary people.”  This can lead people to feel they have nothing to contribute.  It is good for people to be involved—it makes them “responsible.”  It gives them an opportunity to use their talents and builds a community spirit.  

But sometimes people don’t want to become involved.  It’s easier to leave it to the experts.  The practice of leaving it to the professionals is very common today.  This leads to the belief that all healing should be left to doctors, nurses, care-givers and first-responders; all teaching should be left to the professional teachers; and all work for the poor should be left to governmental agencies and charitable organizations.  

Of course, experts are needed for specialized jobs.  But the non-specialists also have much to contribute, and many times have a “warmer heart.” The sick have as much need for companionship as of medicine.  The old need someone to spend time with them, and help them tend to their affairs; the young need someone to show in interest in them, to relate to them, and be role models and examples for them to follow.  This is work we can all do.  It does not call for any expertise—only a caring heart.  

The Bible begins with the story of how God made human beings partners in the work of creation.  And Christ made His disciples partners in the work of salvation.  A great responsibility has been laid upon us.  We are responsible for God’s world and for one another.  We are stewards of creation.  We are co-workers with Christ.  

t’s a great challenge for us to be active, not passive followers of Christ.  We must be “receivers,” but also, we must be “givers.”  Something is asked of every one of us, and everyone’s contribution, no matter how small, is important.  “For the forest to be green, the trees must be green!”  

May God Richly Bless You!

“I just want people to see Christ in me; I don’t even care if they know my name as long as they get to know Jesus.”

~~Mother Teresa~~


Prayer of Mother Teresa.docx

To view a recording of today's Holy Mass, click here:  https://youtu.be/iBrpsxsrIpg

Edited by Father Michael
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