Fr. Dale’s Homily

15th Sunday of OT (Cycle B)
July 10-11, 2021
Gospel:  Mark 6: 7-13

Can you recall any time that you were asked to “Pair Up”? It could have been at a retreat to pray or at a bachelorette party for a game or basketball to practice a play… Pending the objective of “Pairing Up”, I would always look for someone I knew I could trust.  Sometimes, someone else would snag me before I could snag another. For a “controller”, this was not welcomed… yet, I learned that sometimes “God is sneaky!” @ getting me to do things like putting that person in my way to someone else I wanted… or I THOUGHT I wanted.  Yes, God can be sneaky…but what might that even mean?  It might mean that God seems to trick us into doing His work.  We open the door to one YES which leads to another and another and another.  Often we find ourselves in a place we never intended to go and often in a task we thought beyond us or beneath us.  Maybe God is not so much sneaky as He certainly is a God of surprises.

Today our gospel is about “being sent”.

The Twelve are sent out two-by-two to preach repentance, heal the sick and drive out demons. So what’s new?  Yawn, Yawn… well, as 21st century baptized disciples, we are commissioned to do the sameNo different.    

This was not what the disciples expected when they left their fishing nets and custom posts.  Their idea of a Messiah was an earthly king who would free Israel.  As followers of that kind of king, they did not expect to find themselves out on the road without food, money and extra coat.  Our God of Surprises does not reveal His plan to us all at once.  Oh no…God reveals God’s plan step-by-step.

The Twelve are sent out two-by-two.  This is a good rule for us as well.  Two can support one another.  If one is discouraged, the other can lift him or her up.  Two can bounce ideas off each other.  Two can hold each other accountable.  Two travel more safely, especially if the message to be given is not welcomed. Two act as stronger witnesses to the truth.  Two may have more influence, more credibilityTwo is an equal number.  I have come to a better understanding about the pain that is caused when that number is cut in half, through divorce or death.  My favorite ‘expression’ about my antiquing-oriented vacations with Fr. Jack is “we are like two nuns in a station wagon”.

The Twelve are sent out to preach repentance and so are we.  Repentance, as you know, is the opposite of rebellion.  Our hope-filled message is that God has already forgiven us.  Our “preaching” does not have to be on a street corner.  It is friend to friend, neighbor to neighbor.  The story is told of a young friar asking Francis of Assisi if he could preach with him.  Francis said, “Yes, follow me to town.”  The two walked to town, through town and out again on the road home.  “Brother Francis, when are we going to preach?” the young friar asked.  “We have”, Francis responded.  “Preach always.  Use words when necessary.”  If our lives are not a witness, our words will fall on deaf ears. 

The Twelve are sent out to heal the sick, and so are we.  Can God heal by the touch of the hand today as He did in the first century?  Certainly, but God usually uses medicines, therapy, people and prayer.  Some people are healed from depression.  You might be one of these people.  It takes medicine and therapy but mostly… it takes faithful friends who would not let you shut yourself off from the world.  Could have been that person with whom you ‘Paired Up’ long ago … or just yesterday.

The Twelve were given authority over unclean spirits, and so are we.  We say that someone has a patient spirit or a kind spirit or a gentle spirit.  By the same token, we can also have a spirit of anger or a critical spirit.  A person can truly be in a “bondage” to alcohol or drugs.  They can be in the grip of anger or jealousy.  FIRST, we look at the demons lurking in our spirits and we work to conquer them.  NEXT we look at evil in the world; injustice, poverty, illiteracy, greed and hatred.  We can’t tackle it all any more than Jesus could.  But, we can do something.  Pick a cause that grips your heart… that energizes you, AND DO IT.  JUST DO IT.  Seek out the Outreach Ministry’s work, read to pre-schoolers or senior citizens, volunteer for Religious Education…  Whatever… JUST DO IT.

God, who called us to be holy way before the foundation of the world, calls us today.  He invites us to His altar to be fed with His very life… His Body and His Blood.  Strengthened by His Spirit, He sends us forth to preach, to heal and to conquer evil anywhere we see it…