Homily for the fifteenth Sunday of the year - Year B - Mk. 6:7-13


by

Father Daniel Meynen
 
 

"Jesus called to him the twelve, and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics. And he said to them, 'Where you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. And if any place will not receive you and they refuse to hear you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet for a testimony against them.'


"So they went out and preached that men should repent. And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many that were sick and healed them."





Homily:


"Jesus called to him the twelve, and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits."


Today, we read this passage of the Gospel, in which Jesus sends his disciples on their mission. Saint Mark provides us with a summary, upon which we will comment. Saint Matthew provided a more detailed account of what the Lord said (see Mt. 10:5-16).


What is the mission? How must it be carried out? Is it single or multiple? So many important questions, questions which are essential to the very life of the Church.


The mission is a command of Christ, which must be carried out through our obedience in the faith, a command which is absolutely single, as the faith of the Church is single.


This command, which constitutes the mission of the Church, is the achievement of the kingdom of God. Christ sends his disciples in order for the world to be, once and for all, delivered from Evil: he "gave them authority over the unclean spirits". The mission of the Church consists in our daily prayer finally achieving its realization: "Father, deliver us from Evil." Day after day, the kingdom of God spreads and tends towards its definitive accomplishment, which will come with Christ on humanity's last day. The Father wants all to be subject to the domination of his Son, a domination of love, which does not want for itself a love that is lukewarm, but rather a love that is strong and powerful!


"He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics."


Saint Mark heard Peter, the first Pope, give this account when he taught the first disciples of Rome. Peter truly retained this lesson of the Master and he followed it closely throughout his life as an apostle. He demonstrated this from the very beginning of his apostolate, in Jerusalem: "Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a man lame from birth was being carried.... Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked for alms. And Peter directed his gaze at him, with John, and said, 'Look at us.' And he fixed his attention upon them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, 'I have no silver and gold, but I give you what I have: in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.' " (Acts 3:1-6)


The possession of material goods is always a problem for he who wants to follow Jesus closely and thus accomplish his mission in following the Master. It is easy to understand why. God is Spirit; therefore we do not see him. The goods we possess are material; and so we see them. Moreover, ever since the original sin, our human nature is wounded, disfigured, and the image of God in it is so distant from the original - God - that this image seems to be completely shattered. Also, with God being so far from us, the creatures around us become our first point of comparison, to such a degree that we very often take them to be gods...


We must thus react, take the opposite course, and live in a completely different manner. This is why Jesus teaches his disciples to take nothing on their journey... The more we are inclined towards the possession and enjoyment of wordly goods, the more we should detach ourselves from them, at least in spirit, and sometimes even in reality. This evangelic attitude has gained for the Church one of the greatest of the Saints she counts among her children: Saint Francis of Assisi! Even if you and I are not other "Saint Francises of Assisi", let us nonetheless ask the Lord to draw our spirit toward the realities of Heaven in order to prevent us from becoming too attached to the goods of this world.


"And he said to them, 'Where you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. And if any place will not receive you and they refuse to hear you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet for a testimony against them.' "


These words of the Lord can be applied literally to itinerant preachers. But for we who remain in a quite specific place for a long period of time, a place that in many cases we have not chosen for ourselves, these words have a more spiritual sense. The house spoken of by Jesus is certainly a true material building, but it can also refer to the soul, in which the Word of God lives as in his residence. If, through our mediation, such and such a person received the grace of faith or any other divine consolation, let us remain in communion with this person, for it is the Lord himself who placed him in our path and who wants to make use of us in order to guide this person on the way to eternity...


"So they went out and preached that men should repent. And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many that were sick and healed them."


Saint Matthew reports other words of the Lord. He places the following words in the mouth of Jesus as he speaks to his disciples: "And preach as you go, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' " (Mt. 10:7) That is how the disciples of Christ must preach penitence: by proclaiming that the Kingdom of Heaven is near! This means that the disciples of Christ must invite men and women to be converted by turning their spirit and their entire being, no longer towards wordly goods, but rather towards the Kingdom of heaven where the Lord God awaits us for all eternity!


We know and believe that there is no alternative other than Heaven or Hell. Either we will be saved, or we will be damned. Either Heaven forever, or Hell forever. Such is our faith, such is the Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman Faith. Even he who passes through that place of purification called Purgatory is already certain of his salvation, though he does not yet see God; and it is this certainty which makes him suffer, but he suffers from love.


Jesus, every day, sends us on our mission: let us obey him with faith, with hope, with love! Let us ask Mary, who perfectly fulfilled on earth the mission which had been entrusted to her by the Spirit of God, to enlight us and to help us to understand exactly what the Lord expects of us throughout our life! May the sacrament of the Eucharist we will receive in communion be our strength and our light on the way to eternity!



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