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15th Sunday in Ordinary Time - July 15, 2018

Traducir al Español

By Deacon Jeff Mevissen

Why do you suppose Jesus sent the Twelve two by two?  Clearly, Jesus wanted the Apostles to support one another in their mission.  I wonder if Jesus also wanted to avoid a cult of personality.  If sent as individuals, Peter could have returned and said, “I drove out ten demons!”  Then James could have responded, “Well I cured twelve sick people.”  Jesus wanted to emphasize the mission, not the missioner; Jesus was sending the Twelve in His power and authority not their own.

Why do you suppose Jesus sent the Twelve without money and without provisions?  Jesus wanted his disciples to serve in simplicity – not in comfort or privilege.  Without resources, the Twelve relied on the people of each town in humility and gratitude.  In the Gospel, we do not find Jesus establishing the seat of Catholicism in Rome, or directing the ordination of bishops, priests, and deacons, or suggesting that there be Knights and Ladies’ Guilds in each parish.  What Jesus does command is that we not place clergy on a pedestal.  When clergy are segregated from the heart of the community they make bad choices and abuses follow.  We follow Jesus, who did not come to be served, but to serve and give his life for others.


Jesus gave his disciples authority over unclean spirits.  We pray the Lord grant us power to combat the evil of war, poverty, ignorance, and disease.  We know that God has already granted the people of St. James the power to heal – we see that in the ministries to the sick, to the home-bound and nursing homes, to the bereaved, to the mentally ill, to the hungry and the imprisoned.    In this we are fulfilling the call of Pope Francis to be a field-hospital to the world.  In war, the wounded cannot be transported to the hospital so medics bring the hospital to the field of battle.  The Gospel calls us to bring a healing touch to those wounded by life.  Jesus also calls us to witness to the truth.  When someone asks us about Roe V. Wade we must say that abortion is not health care because it purposely ends a human life.  How can a doctor take the Hippocratic oath to do no harm and destroy a healthy baby?


I love the story of Le Miserable in which Jean Valjean steals the silver of the Bishop in return for the Bishop granting him refuge.  When the Gendarme hauls Jean back to the residence of the Bishop, the Bishop says, “Did he not tell you that I gave him the silver?”  “Well, yes,” says the policeman, “but I thought he way lying,”  “Shame on you,” said the Bishop, and he dismisses the policeman.   Then the Bishop prays over Jean and says, “With this silver I purchase from your soul all that is dark, all that is malicious, all that is selfish.”  Remarkably, Jean is transformed and becomes a force for good in society. 


Can you really purchase the soul of a man with silver?  No, but you can transform souls with prayer.  God wants to change the hearts of men and women but he invites us to pray and be a part of the process.  And, was it not the kindness, the generosity, and compassion of the bishop that impressed Jean when he had been treated with contempt his entire life?  Absolutely! God wants to heal, to bless, and to grant prosperity through us if we resolve to respond to selfishness with generosity.


I heard of a case of road-rage in which a young lady made a gesture of contempt to a man she felt had wronged her.  In response, the man, who happened to be a Catholic priest, blessed her with the sign of the cross.  My dear brothers and sisters, we all have the power to bless those who curse us - that is the power to drive out demons.  Let us live by the saying of St. Paul: “Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good.”