14th Sunday of Ordinary Time (B).
APOSTOLIC MISSION, ZEAL AND DIFFICULTIES.
“AND HE MARVELLED BECAUSE OF THEIR UNBELIEF (Mk 6:6)”:
The readings of this Sunday’s Mass revolve around a central theme: APOSTOLIC MISSION AND THE DIFFICULTIES ENCOUNTERED IN IT.
- In the 1st reading, Ezechiel was told by our Lord after being sent to the Israelites: “whether they heed or resist — for they are a rebellious house — they shall know that a prophet has been among them (Ez 2:5).”
- In the 2nd reading, Paul speaks about the interior struggle he had to sustain WITH JOY due to his weaknesses and tribulations faced in his mission: I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong (2Cor 12:10).”
- And in the Gospel, after having preached in the synagogue and impressed all his astonished listeners, Jesus was received with incredulity due to his condition as the “carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.” So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith (Mk 6:3-6).”
By virtue of our Baptism, all faithful, especially the laity, are called not only to holiness but to apostolate as well for one cannot strive holiness without bringing souls closer to God. The lay apostolate…is a participation in the salvific mission of the Church itself. “Through their baptism and confirmation ALL ARE COMMISSIONED TO THAT APOSTOLATE BY THE LORD HIMSELF. Moreover, by the sacraments, especially holy Eucharist, that charity toward God and man which is the soul of the apostolate is communicated and nourished. Now THE LAITY ARE CALLED IN A SPECIAL WAY TO MAKE THE CHURCH PRESENT AND OPERATIVE IN THOSE PLACES AND CIRCUMSTANCES WHERE ONLY THROUGH THEM CAN IT BECOME THE SALT OF THE EARTH. THUS EVERY LAYMAN, IN VIRTUE OF THE VERY GIFTS BESTOWED UPON HIM, IS AT THE SAME TIME A WITNESS AND A LIVING INSTRUMENT OF THE MISSION OF THE CHURCH (Lumen gentium, n. 33).”
- In this apostolic mission, LET US NOT BE SURPRISED IF WE ENCOUNTER DIFFICULTIES, tribulations, rejection and indifference, aside from the fact that we have to struggle to overcome our tendency towards pride, laziness, sensuality, vanity… Ezechiel, St. Paul and Our Lord Jesus Christ themselves had them, and the apostle is not greater than the master.
- WHERE DO WE CARRY OUT THIS MISSION? In the place where Our Lord placed us. First and foremostly, in our home where parents not only are to provide an academic education but an integral one, including the education in Christian faith and the practice of human and supernatural virtues, through their good example.
- Apostolate has to be carried out as well in our place of work, at the university, through apostolate of friendship and confidence. Real friends want the best for their friends, and is there any good greater than the salvation of their soul and their eternal happiness? We are also called to impregnate the environment with Christian spirit, putting God at the pinnacle of all noble human activities.
- WHAT ARE THE MEANS WHICH WE HAVE TO EMPLOY?
– constant PRAYER for the conversion of the people the Lord has placed at our side;
– generous SACRIFICES or MORTIFICATION for the people whom we are dealing with and offering to Our Lord whatever difficulty we may encounter.
– ACTION, overcoming human respects for love of God. With friendship, one can easily open his heart and talk about profound things with another: friendly advices, correction, invitation to prayer and to frequent the sacraments of Confession and Holy Eucharist or to some means of formation….
“During the Second World War, one of the bombardments left a little German village alomost completely destroyed. And with the town, the church. At the Main altar there had hung a life-size image of Christ crucified, to which the people of that district were very devoted. Following that bombardment, the local people found the corpus amidst the debris but without its arms.
When the time for reconstruction came, the people could not agree on what to do with their beloved image. Some wanted to install new arms on the body. Others were inclined to make a replica of the crucifix as it once had been. In the end, after much discussion, the congregation decided to use the damaged corpus without replacing the arms, Instead, they put up the following inscription: You are my arms…This is how the crucifix stands on the back altarpiece of that church to this very day.
We are the arms of God in the world. He has wanted to remain in the Tabernacle so that we may go to him, listen to him, draw strength from him. He gives us the charge of spreading his message and his doctrine to all men and women. Jesus Christ wants us to be his instruments (F. Fernández Carvajal, “Lukewarmeness. The Devil in Disguise”, chap. IX).”
Dear friends, OUR LORD EXPECTS FROM EACH ONE OF US THIS APOSTOLIC ZEAL WHICH IS BASED ON PRAYER AND SACRIFICE, BEING UNFAZED IN THE DIFFICULTIES WE MIGHT ENCOUNTER ALONG THE WAY. We, Christians, cannot remain passive and just cross our arms, seeing our society being engulfed by different ideologies which are disrespectful of God and His plans for humanity.
Let us ask God for this hunger for souls, to gain souls for Him, for His honor and Glory. Apostolic zeal is a divine craziness I want you to have. Its symptoms are: hunger to know the Master; constant concern for souls; perseverance that nothing can shake… You have got to be a ‘man of God,’ a man of interior life, a man of prayer and sacrifice. Your apostolate must be the overflow of your life ‘within’ (St. Josemaria, “the Way” nn. 934; 961).”
Regina Apostolorum, Queen of the Apostles, pray for us!
Have a Blessed Sunday to you and your family!
N.B. As regards the terms “brothers” and “sisters” of Jesus, this does not indicate that Mary had more children after Jesus. In Hebrew and Aramaic, the word “brother” does not necessarly mean son of the same parents. It can also indicate other degrees of relationships — cousins, nephews etc. Thus in Gen 13:8 and 14:14 and 16 Lot is called the brother of Abraham (translated as “kinsman” in RSV), whereas we know that he was Abraham’s nephew, the son of Abraham’s brother Haran. The same is true of Laban, who is called the brother of Jacob (Gen 29:15) although he was his mother’s brother (Gen 29:15); there are other instances: cf. 1 Chron 23:21-22, etc. This confusion is due to the poverty of Hebrew and Aramaic language: in the absence of distinct terms, the same word, brother, is used to designate different degrees of relationship.” (Navarre Bible Commentary to Mk 6: 1-3).
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that Mary is Ever-Virgin:
500 The Church has always understood these passages as not referring to other children of the Virgin Mary. In fact James and Joseph, “brothers of Jesus”, are the sons of another Mary, a disciple of Christ, whom St. Matthew significantly calls “the other Mary”.They are close relations of Jesus, according to an Old Testament expression.
501 Jesus is Mary’s only son, but her spiritual motherhood extends to all men whom indeed he came to save: “The Son whom she brought forth is he whom God placed as the first-born among many brethren, that is, the faithful in whose generation and formation she co-operates with a mother’s love.”
-Fr. Rolly Arjonillo, priest of Opus Dei. CATHOLICS STRIVING FOR HOLINESS. We are also in Facebook: www.facebook.com/CatholicsstrivingforHoliness Hope you like our page and invite your friends as well to do so in order to help more people.
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