15th Sunday in Ordinary Time - July 15, 2012
Deacon Rick Fisher
"We are chosen by Jesus to be His disciples and to continue the work which He began."
We are in mid-season for vacations. People are traveling, visiting family and friends, spending weekends at vacation spots, or at the shore. No matter what kind of vacation or trip you might take, one aspect of a trip no one can avoid is packing.
What looks simple usually turns out to be complicated as people attempt to prepare and organize a variety of items into a suitcase or other type of container ... and they won't fit.
In our Gospel, Jesus told the disciples not to take a suitcase. They were to take no food, no traveling bag, no money, and no change of clothes. They were to make their journey with what they had, with sandals on their feet, and a walking stick in hand. We'd never get out of the driveway!
Why would Jesus instruct his disciples to travel this way? They were sent two by two on a mission, a trip to spread the Good News and cure the sick. They were so instructed to travel this way because the emphasis was not on the needs demanded by the journey ... but on the reason for the journey.
The disciples were being sent to preach the need of repentance, to expel demons, to anoint the sick with oil, and to work many cures. About the only parallel we might have to such a mission today might be called a working vacation.
And each one of us has been chosen by Jesus to take a working vacation ... chosen by Jesus to go on a mission. As Paul said, "God chose us in Christ before the world began." We, like the disciples of old, have been chosen to continue this tradition of a working vacation.
We may be hesitant like Amos, and we may be slow to recognize our chosen status, but sooner or later we realize we must go. To be a Christian is to be chosen and sent on a journey that takes a lifetime. It is not just a vacation but a working vacation.
And what is this mission? Our mission, if we choose to accept it, is to preach repentance, to expel demons and to anoint and cure the sick. And we are being sent to preach the need for repentance in a world that sees no need to repent.
To repent means to turn around, to change the way one lives. Many have forgotten the meaning of repentance. This is not to advocate a return to the pre?Vatican II days ... but a healthy sense of self?discipline ... the key to the continual process of repentance.
We live in a society that is too comfortable. Comfort breeds decadence. We want for nothing. As a result, our wills go unattended. Our inability to repent is reflected in those groups that organize repentance for us because we are too weak to do it for ourselves.
Groups such as Weight Watchers, Alcoholics Anonymous, diet plans, smoker's clubs, drug abuse organizations, etc., ... these are good groups and provide good programs that help many people ... but they attest to the fact that we have no self?discipline.
Jesus sent His disciples to preach a need for repentance. And we have been chosen by Jesus to go forth on a working vacation and preach repentance by the way we live every day.
Jesus also sent His disciples to expel demons. When we expel demons, we are not referring to "The Exorcist"?type demon, where a little girl sits in bed and regurgitates green pea soup! A demon is anything that keeps people from reaching their full potential.
If we look around, we will see that there are plenty of these demons. Poverty is a demon ... not having any kind of medical insurance or medical aid is a demon. Others include boredom, inequality, injustice, hunger, persecution, apartheid, and so on. These are real demons ... the kind that Jesus sent his disciples to expel ... and the same kind He sends us to expel today.
The disciples were sent to anoint and cure the sick. Likewise, we are chosen and sent to the sick. We anoint them, not with oil, but with our concern and our care. A visit can do a great deal of curing for one who is sick. Other ways of anointing and curing might include bringing a gift, taking a housebound person on a short trip, calling someone in a nursing home, or permitting the sick to do something for us.
We are chosen by Jesus to be His disciples and to continue the work which He began. Being a disciple means living the life of a disciple. There is a difference between living Catholicism and practicing Catholicism. Jesus calls disciples that will live His message; He wants people who will take working vacations.
But Jesus' call is usually not well received. Most of the time people do not want to hear about such things, not to mention being the person who lives this way. Once we are convinced, however, of the Master's call, like Amos, we have no choice but to get started.
There are other calls that go out ... one is by an organization that promotes unity among its members ... and that unity provides unity with its family ... and it’s church. It is a support group, consisting of men dedicated to the principals of charity, unity, fraternity, and patriotism. These men are church supporters ... supporters of the bishops, priests ... and hopefully deacons.
They help others through a great insurance program. They help others by Abeing there@ ... visiting the sick, not just their own membership, but as active supporters in their community and their parish. This is charity ... giving of self ... the Christ-like image within ... to one who needs Christ ... needs to feel the presence.
These men are on a mission ... a mission of charity ... promoting unity ... fraternity ... and patriotism, the love of country. They follow the disciples ... they pack lightly for their mission ... carrying their badges of honor, and their weapons to defend those against the demons of the world ... their knowledge and love of Scripture ... and their Rosaries.
These men are the Knights of Columbus. Following this afternoon, St. Columcille Council ... a council that formed in this church and took the name Columcille back in July of 1962 ... will be celebrating its 50th anniversary. It is a great event, celebrating all that the Knights of Columbus stands for, its ceremonies, its commitment to fraternalism, charity, and community and parish support, showing its mission.
For each of us ... on our own, individual mission ... today is just as good a day as any to get started. It doesn't have to be a big step, it can be a small one ... and start slowly. But this anniversary does not indicate an ending, only a pause as we refresh and keep on going.#