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15th Sunday of Ordinary Time (12th July 2009)
Mark (6:7-13)

 

 

 

Jesus came preaching repentance, casting out devils and healing the sick. In this Gospel he sends out the Twelve Apostles and now they are the ones who preach repentance, cast out devils and heal the sick. The influence of Jesus spreads, not just through his own presence, but through the presence of others who are given his work to do.

 

In the Acts of the Apostles the apostles themselves lay hands on the deacons and we find that they also, although ordained to distribute the help to the poor, also preach like the Apostles and work miracles like the Apostles. Jesus is at work, although what we see is an apostle or a deacon or, indeed, a bishop or priest. This is what we call the “apostolic succession,” the presence and power of Jesus extending through the world and through time thanks to the sacrament of ordination.

 

This Gospel of men going out, taking nothing for the journey, presents a wonderful vision. Wonderful because it depends on nothing: just go out and God will look after the future. It is because of Gospel texts like this, and the grace of the Holy Spirit who inspires us to listen, that the faith is always fresh, always looking at this tired world or a tired Church and saying “Let’s get up and do things differently, let’s start again.” Leave what you have accumulated behind, taking nothing for the journey, because God is looking after you.

 

To be radical is an urgent priority, because that alone allows us to stay fresh in our faith and not become tired with the world. The great English writer G. K. Chesterton once said that one of the great blessings of the Catholic Faith is that it spares us the terrible tyranny of being a child of our times. Because following Jesus in the simplicity and straightforwardness of this Sunday’s Gospel is so radical, it can’t stop dragging us away from the patterns of thinking which everyone around us would wish us to share.

 

When St. Peter wrote to the first Christians about their conversion, speaks about the surprise that their pagan friends have that the Christians are different (1Peter 4:4) and those who have turned to Christ behave differently to before. Well of course, because there is someone telling us to step on out without hesitation, to take nothing for the journey, to be fearless.