Sunday, July 11, 2021

Preach the Gospel always, if necessary, use words.


Preach the Gospel always, if necessary, use words.

This post is based on the readings for the fifteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B as published in the Sunday Lectionary # 104.  Amos 7.12-15; Ps. 85.8ab-9, 10-11, 12-13(R.7) Ephesians 1.3-14; Mark 6.7-13.

So the twelve went out and proclaimed that all should repent. 

Consider for a moment if you were asked you to go out and proclaim the good news to all the people of Kingston so they might repent and believe, how would you respond? What would you say?

I would suspect many of us – and I include myself in those numbers – would respond the same as Amos did in the first reading when he was asked to go out and prophesy. He said:  ‘I am* no prophet, nor a prophet’s son I am just *a herdsman; who am I to do this?

Yet the readings for this Sunday remind us that this responsibility to preach the good news is part of our baptismal vocation. After all, at our baptism we were consecrated with sacred chrism and the priest prayed that we would participate in the priestly and prophetic ministry of Jesus. In other words, being a catholic is not a membership in some private and exclusive club but one entrusted with the sole purpose of continuing the healing mission of Jesus Christ.

I would suspect that those of you who are willing to say yes to this call to preach the good news are saying I would be more comfortable doing this if I had a special commissioning from the Church along with some theological or pastoral training. Well these things are important but the lack of them does not free us from our baptismal duty to give witness to our faith. Listen to Jesus’ instructions to his disciples: “Take nothing for your journey” Jesus is very clear go armed with only your faith; you will need nothing more.

It is a daunting task but one that is realistic. An example – one we have all heard before but worth repeating - of what I mean is illustrated in the life of St. Francis of Assisi, who having heard this gospel proclaimed immediately gave away everything he had and went out and lived the gospel message.

A number of years later a priest, who admired the simplicity of St. Francis, came to him and said, "Francis, I know you are a great preacher. Would you teach me how to preach the Gospel?" Francis agreed. They went off to feed the hungry, to give shelter to the homeless, to take some orphans to a home that would care for them. At the end of the day Francis and the priest had cared for over 50 people. The priest said, "Francis, this is all wonderful work, but when are you going to teach me how to preach the Gospel?" Francis replied, "We've been preaching the Gospel all day through how we have lived the day.  Francis understood that it was not through a special commissioning or some extraordinary methods that made him a credible witness to the gospel but rather how he lived it. His advice to his companion was take nothing for your journey and to “Preach the Gospel always, if necessary, use words."

This is our call – and every mass concludes with a dismissal that invites us to proclaim the good news. “Go in peace glorifying the Lord with your life” or Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord!





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