Go, You Are Sent

July 22, 2018 | N W | Discipleship, Evangelization, Guest Celebrants, Mercy, Mission, Service, Vocations

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 22, 2018 – Year B
Readings: Jer 23:1-6 / Ps 23 / Eph 2:13-18 / Mk 6:30-34
by Rev. Dan Kelly, Guest Celebrant

In today’s first reading, Jeremiah the prophet is addressing two groups of people. First, he’s addressing the leaders of Israel, who have abandoned their people and sought their own way, avoiding God’s commandments. The people, as a result, were also forgetting what God’s commandments were. Jeremiah is also addressing the people themselves, who have been led to follow foreign and non-believing peoples from other nations.

We’ve heard that story before in the scriptures, especially in the Old Testament, when God promised and sent someone to renew His people. God promised, through Jeremiah, that He would raise up new leaders for the Jewish people, who would bring them back to their faith. That is the first connection with the gospel: leadership.

Last Sunday, we had Jesus summoning the twelve and sending them out on a mission. That word, mission, is how we have the word, Mass, today. The word, Mass, comes from the Latin word, Missa. In the formerly Latin Mass, the priest would give the dismissal, saying Ite, Missa est. At this, the people would respond, Deo Gratias, which means, Thanks be to God. Why am I spending time on this? Because of the word, mission. Ite is the plural command form of Go. Go, you are sent, is literally what the priest was saying. When Deacon dismisses us today, he will say something to the effect of, Go and live the Gospel in your lives, or a similar expression. Ite, Missa est says you have a mission: Go into your mission. You are sent. This Gospel is not only for the Apostles, but it is for us. So when Deacon Eddie says some form in English, of Ite, Missa est, we’ll know that means I’m sent to do a mission.

Jesus sent his disciples. He sent them out two by two, making them partners in his redemptive work. Then, after they had spent months visiting various villages, they came back to rendezvous with our Lord. He took them to a quiet, desolate place, where they could meditate, reflect, and have what we call in modern language, a “debriefing” with the Lord. Can you imagine the excitement of the apostles saying, “Lord, we went into this town…Andrew and I were there and we anointed people with oil who were ill…and we cured others…we expelled devils from others. It was a wonderful mission and people were coming!” Two by two or one by one, the disciples would be telling Jesus of their experiences.

Before that actually happened, as we heard in the gospel, He called them to this desolate, quiet place, but people got wind of all this. The crowd wanted to hear more of Jesus. They found out where Jesus and the apostles were all going, they headed out, and they were there before everybody arrived. Here we have Jesus having pity on them because, as in that first reading from Jeremiah, the people did not have a shepherd. He had pity on them and so he began again to teach. The disciples then shared their success stories.

There are other examples of the sharing of faith in the Gospels. We have the story of the visitation of Mary with her cousin Elizabeth. These women are sharing with each other how the Lord worked in their lives. You remember very well the account of Mary, after the angel Gabriel told her that she was to be with child and his name would be Jesus. She traveled to the town where Elizabeth lived and found that her cousin, who was much older than Mary, was already with child. So Mary wanted to go and spend some time listening to the wisdom and sharing the holiness of Elizabeth. When Mary called out Elizabeth’s name as she was approaching Elizabeth’s house, do you remember what happened? The moment Elizabeth heard Mary’s voice in her ears, the baby leapt for joy in her womb.

What is our mission? We need moments of faith-sharing and moments of practice. Everybody remembers the spiritual and corporal works of Mercy. Some spiritual works are: instruct the ignorant, counsel the doubtful. That means spending some time offering guidance, if someone is talking about something they don’t understand, or have worries about their faith. Another is admonishing the sinner. That’s a big challenge if you know someone who does not know better. Forgive someone who is abrasive or intolerant of you. Pray for the living and the dead.

The corporal works of mercy are a little easier to remember, the “bodily” works. Visit the sick. Visit the imprisoned. It’s great if a parish has a prison ministry. Shelter the homeless. Feed the hungry. Clothe the naked. Bury the dead. Give alms to the poor, in one way or another, to help those who haven’t got the blessings that we have.

I have a story now to share with you, about the works of mercy. There was a little child in school who was not doing well at all. His clothes were never very good, he was inattentive and withdrawn, never raised his hand. The teacher felt that he didn’t have much interest, so when he didn’t do well on examinations, she gave him poor grades. This went on for a while.

Finally, Christmastime came. The child’s name was Teddy. All the children had gifts for the teacher. Teddy’s mother had died recently, which was the main reason why he was inattentive and ill prepared. Teddy came and gave his gift to the teacher as the children were all there lined up at her desk with gifts wrapped in beautiful colors. Teddy’s gift was wrapped in old brown paper and tied with tattered twine. When the teacher opened it, there was an old cheap bracelet with missing rhinestones and a bottle of inexpensive perfume. At that moment, the other kids laughed because they saw that Teddy’s present was not as nice as theirs. But the teacher had the presence of mind to unscrew the perfume and smell it, and say, “Oh! That smells so nice!” The next day the teacher had that perfume on. Teddy told her, “You remind me of my Mom because you smell just like her.”

So the teacher began to change her attitude to Teddy. She realized the difficulty he had in his life and why he was withdrawn and didn’t do well in his studies. It was not lack of interest in the classes or in the teacher. So she worked much harder to give him encouragement. Years passed by and one day the teacher received a letter from Teddy. (The teacher’s name was Mrs. Thompson.) He wrote, “I have just graduated from high school at the top of the class. I thought you should be the first to know.” Very good news for Mrs. Thompson. Many years went by again, and one day, Mrs. Thompson got another letter. This letter said, “Again, Mrs. Thompson, I wanted you to be the first to know. As of today, I am now Theodore Stoddard, MD. I’m getting married next month, the 27th to be exact. I want you to come and sit where my mother would sit if she were still alive. You are my only family I have now. Dad died last year. Love, Teddy Stoddard.” Mrs. Thompson went to the wedding and sat where Teddy’s mother would have sat. She had given to one of the least of God’s children.

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