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14th Sunday in Ordinary Time - July 3, 2016

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            On this Fourth of July weekend, when the United States is celebrating its independence, our Scriptures invite us to celebrate Jesus’ victory on the cross and rejoice in the new creation that he inaugurated.  Unlike human kingdoms, God’s reign is eternal.  Jesus Christ invites us to be a part of his ministry like the 72 he sent.

            Like the disciples, we are sent according to our vocations: religious and consecrated life, ordained ministry, spouses, parents, widows and widowers, single persons, young adults, adolescents and children.  It is certainly not surprising in a society in which our culture is largely permeated with drugs, alcoholism, unbridled sexuality, and the pursuits of money and material possessions are a priority, and in which educators tell us altruism and idealism have become rare, that few fulfill their vocations according to our specific calls in such a manner which demands a certain forgetfulness of self and dedication to the sharing of a spiritual vision with others.  Pope John XXIII said it well:  “I must strip my views of all useless foliage and concentrate on what is truth, justice and charity.”  He captures is so few words what Jesus meant when he sent the disciples out with no money bag, extra clothes, or other things which would have encumbered them.  They were free to preach the good news, heal the sick and even expel demons in Jesus’ name.

For all of us, the priority must be the mission more so that what one gets from it.  The fulfillment of living a life for Christ is important, but not more important than the mission itself.  It remains true that our lives should be lived in the generosity inspired by the message, and our “style of life” must be subordinated to the purpose of that life – a perspective quite different from the “success” orientation so prevalent in our culture.  (Story from Sister Helen.) This story demonstrates that no act of kindness is too small to make a big difference in the lives of those who receive it.
When they entered a house, the disciples were to offer peace to those in that house.  We too come here to seek the Lord’s peace, and are blessed with that peace.  We must then be prepared to give back something of what we have received.  The end of Mass is not like the end of a football game or a movie where we simply get up and leave.  At the end of Mass, we are sent forth – to witness to that which we have received.  Go and give peace to love and serve others – family members, neighbors, co-workers, classmates.  And Jesus tells us that we may not always succeed.  For true peace to happen between people, it takes both parties.  Part of the challenge is to realize that our peace will not always be accepted, especially in brokenness among family members.  But we must try.  In a world torn apart by competition, anger, and hatred, we have a challenging vocation – to be living signs of love that can bridge divisions and heal wounds.  It would do us well to ponder these issues in our lives this week and think about those things which weigh us down and keep us from sharing Jesus’ love and peace.  The words we say will only touch other hearts and minds when our lives are one with the message we are preaching.

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