2013-07-07, 14th C, The Greatest Joy

Homily 07-07-13
14th Sunday Ordinary Time C
Is 66:10-14c; Ps 66:1-7,16,20; Gal 6:14-18; Lk 10:1-12,17-20

(Scriptures included after homily)

If we were to assign one word to the entire collection of today’s readings,
that word would be rejoice.   REJOICE!

The seventy-two missionaries had clear reason to rejoice, because they were first-hand witnesses to the mighty power of God working through them, to cure and to heal and to prepare the people for the coming of Jesus.

In our first reading, the prophet Isaiah was addressing the Israelites who also had good reason to rejoice, because they were finally returning home to Jerusalem after a long exile in Babylon, and God would be close by their sides.

And then there was St. Paul, who was writing to the infant Church of Galatia, in our present day Turkey.  Even though Paul could have easily boasted in joy over all his great missionary accomplishments, Paul’s joy rested, not in clinging to the ways of the world, but in his Faith in Jesus.

You see, of all the countless ways of receiving joy in life, a wedding, the birth of a child, chocolate, the greatest joy possible comes in bringing others to Jesus; in seeing that spark of revelation in the eyes of a child, or a teen, or even in an aged parent on their death bed.

The greatest joy in life is bringing others to Jesus!

But maybe we’re thinking, “This is too hard.”  “Who am I, to speak about Jesus?”  “Besides, who would I speak to?”  “And what would I say?”  “And what if they asked me questions that I couldn’t answer?”  “And what if they beat me up, like they did to Peter and Paul, and even, to Jesus?!”

That’s where Faith comes in.

You know, Jesus often spoke about farming and plows, and yokes and harvests.  And you know, one thing about harvests is that you don’t cut the plants down before the grain or the corn is ready or ripe.

Jesus said, “The harvest is abundant, but the laborers are few.”  And He sent the seventy-two out with no Bibles and no vestments and, as a matter of fact, they didn’t even have shoes!  And they didn’t go out to the belligerent atheists or the radical terrorists who weren’t ready for harvest yet.

They went to those who were seeking and searching for an answer, to those who were looking for hope.  They went to those who were beat up enough by life, like the Israelites in Babylon and the Jews under Roman occupation.  Those, like our friends with cancer, or the ones who lost their job or spouse, or are just plain lost themselves.  These are the people of ‘the Harvest’ who are ready and waiting for the hope of Jesus to fill an unfillable void.

And WE have been appointed, we have been blessed with the grace and the ability to offer that hope with simple words like: “The peace of Christ be with you,” or “God bless you,” or “God loves you.”  And in return, we receive the greatest reward possible, that Joy of Jesus.  Joy, because we know that in fulfilling His mission, our names too, will be written in Heaven.

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But then again, maybe we’re really still not quite ready.

You see, that’s exactly why Jesus gave us one another.  Remember, He didn’t send those seventy-two out solo.  They went with partners.  Partners strengthen one another with encouragement.  And the Holy Spirit is always there to help.  Remember, Jesus said, “Wherever two or more are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them.”
Mt 18:20

The greatest miracle movieAnd, of course, our Church is there too.  With our clergy as guides, a massive library of wisdom, two-thousand years of Tradition, the saints as model examples, community gatherings like our Summer Book Club, which is starting this week, and even modern movies and videos, like this one called “The Greatest Miracle” which is an awesome story relating our Mass and the Eucharist to everyday life.

With all of these, we really do have no excuse.

But to our credit, God has also graced us with the gift of time.  Now it’s up to us to use it wisely.  And in doing so, we will always REJOICE because we know that His love is immeasurable and He is counting on us!

jmp 07-07-13

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Scripture Readings for the Mass of 07-07-13
Fourteenth Sunday Ordinary Time C

First Reading:  Is 66:10-14c

Thus says the LORD: Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad because of her, all you who love her; exult, exult with her, all you who were mourning over her!  Oh, that you may suck fully of the milk of her comfort, that you may nurse with delight at her abundant breasts!  For thus says the LORD: Lo, I will spread prosperity over Jerusalem like a river, and the wealth of the nations like an overflowing torrent.

As nurslings, you shall be carried in her arms, and fondled in her lap; as a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; in Jerusalem you shall find your comfort.  When you see this, your heart shall rejoice and your bodies flourish like the grass; the LORD’s power shall be known to his servants.

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 66:1-3, 4-5, 6-7, 16, 20

R. Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
Shout joyfully to God, all the earth, sing praise to the glory of his name; proclaim his glorious praise.  Say to God, “How tremendous are your deeds!”
R.
“Let all on earth worship and sing praise to you, sing praise to your name!” Come and see the works of God, his tremendous deeds among the children of Adam.
R.
He has changed the sea into dry land; through the river they passed on foot; therefore let us rejoice in him. He rules by his might forever.
R.
Hear now, all you who fear God, while I declare what he has done for me. Blessed be God who refused me not my prayer or his kindness!
R.

Second Reading:  Gal 6:14-18

Brothers and sisters: May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.  For neither does circumcision mean anything, nor does uncircumcision, but only a new creation.   Peace and mercy be to all who follow this rule and to the Israel of God.

From now on, let no one make troubles for me; for I bear the marks of Jesus on my body.  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen.

Gospel:  Lk 10:1-12, 17-20

At that time the Lord appointed seventy-two others whom he sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit.  He said to them, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.

Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves.  Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; and greet no one along the way.  Into whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this household.’ If a peaceful person lives there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you.  Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you, for the laborer deserves his payment.  Do not move about from one house to another.  Whatever town you enter and they welcome you, eat what is set before you, cure the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God is at hand for you.’

Whatever town you enter and they do not receive you, go out into the streets and say, ‘The dust of your town that clings to our feet, even that we shake off against you.’ Yet know this: the kingdom of God is at hand.  I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom on that day than for that town.”

The seventy-two returned rejoicing, and said, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name.”   Jesus said, “I have observed Satan fall like lightning from the sky.  Behold, I have given you the power to ‘tread upon serpents’ and scorpions and upon the full force of the enemy and nothing will harm you.  Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”

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