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Sunday, July 12, 2009

15th Ordinary Sunday Year B (Bible Sunday)

Today is 15th Sunday of Ordinary time Year B and is also Bible Sunday 2009 with a theme: 'A God who speaks.' The Gospel reading is according to Mark 6:7-13 and it deals with the Mission given by our Lord Jesus to his Twelve Apostles:

“Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits. 8 He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick—no food, no sack, no money in their belts. 9 They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic. 10 He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave from there. 11 Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them.” 12 So they went off and preached repentance. 18 They drove out many demons, and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.”

There is no question that this passage is directed to the Apostles, after all, this is the Mission of the Twelve. But by Apostolic succession, this mission has now been handed down by the Twelve Apostles, down to the Early Fathers of the Catholic Church, whose names should be common to us, like, Tertullian, St. Ignatius of Antioch, St. Justin the Philosopher and Martyr, St. Clement of Rome, St. John Chrysotom or St. Irenaeus of Lyons. From the Early Fathers, this succession goes all the way down to the Pope in Rome.

This divine proclamation wasn’t written only by the Evangelist Mark, but Matthew also wrote this, which was the Gospel reading last Thursday perhaps to signify the importance of this teaching. Allow me to reprint from Matt.10: 7-15, which is also called the Mission of the Twelve.

“Jesus said to his Apostles; “As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 8 Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons. Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give. 9 Do not take gold or silver or copper for your belts; 10 no sack for the journey, or a second tunic, or sandals, or walking stick. The laborer deserves his keep.

11Whatever town or village you enter, look for a worthy person in it, and stay there until you leave. 12 As you enter a house, wish it peace. 13 If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; if not, let your peace return to you. 14 Whoever will not receive you or listen to your words—go outside that house or town and shake the dust from your feet. 15 Amen, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the Day of Judgment than for that town.”

The first question that comes to mind when we read this passage is directed to our Parish priests especially when our Lord said, “Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.” The “philosopos” around us are quick to trap our priests why weddings cost so much in this or that parish, why there is a “price” for baptizing our children and for offering masses for the living or the dead? Indeed, on a worse case scenario, you can get those services for free if it comes to a certain point that the person offering truly has no money or is in dire straits.

The reason why I also reprinted the Gospel reading of Matthew is because it’s a bit more complete than Marks. In Matt; 10: 10 our Lord Jesus pointed out that “The laborer deserve his keep.” This means that priests after all can accept certain things from the faithful. But in this modern age, we give them paper money, which for all intents and purposes is not really gold, silver or copper. But this happens only in urban areas. I know that in the rural areas, especially in the provinces, priests get all sorts of animals, like chicken, goats or palay in lieu of money for the maintenance of the church.

So we have stumbled upon the issue of tithing in the church, which as you know is a very delicate subject. But then let me remind you of what our Lord Jesus told the Scribes and priests, “I have come not to abolish the law, but to fulfill it!” As our Lord Jesus only teaches us the truth, then this must also be written in scripture.

Indeed it is written in the Cleansing of the Leper in Matt 8: 4 when after the leper approached our Lord and did him homage, he was made clean then our Lord Jesus said to him, “See that you tell no one, but go show yourself to the priest and offer the gift that Moses prescribed.” Maybe we should ask, wasn’t it enough for the cured leper to give thanks to the Lord after he was given a miracle? Apparently, we must do something that the church has prescribed the faithful to do.

While other Christian churches prescribe a certain percentage as tithe, the Catholic Church does not impose any amount. This is up to the churchgoers. But if we truly love our Church, which is we the Body of Christ, then we should give not just money, but ourselves to her service.

Adapted from SHOOTING STRAIGHT By Valeriano Avila

Commentary of the day :
Saint Gregory the Great (c.540-604), Pope, Doctor of the Church
Homilies on the Gospel, 17,1-3
"He began to send them out two by two"
Dearly beloved brethren, our Lord and Savior teaches us sometimes by his words and sometimes by his actions. His actions themselves are commandments, for when he does something without saying anything, he shows us how we must act. So here he is sending his disciples out two by two to preach, because there are two commandments of love: love of God and of the neighbor. The Lord sent his disciples to preach two by two to suggest to us without saying it that the person who does not have love for the other must absolutely not take on the ministry of preaching.
It is very good that he «sent them in pairs before him to every town and place he intended to visit.» (Lk 10:1) For the Lord comes after his preachers, because preaching is a prerequisite: the Lord comes to dwell in our soul when the words of exhoration have come as a forerunner and have caused us to welcome the truth in our soul. That is why Isaiah said to the preachers: «Prepare the way of the Lord! Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God!» (Isa 40:3) And the psalmist also told them: «Prepare the way for him who rises up to the west.» (Ps 67:5 Vulgate) The Lord rises up to the west [the lying down of the sun] because in lying down in his passion, he showed himself in greater glory in his resurrection. He rose up to the lying down, because in rising, he trampled underfoot the death that he suffered. Thus, we prepare the way for him who rises up to the lying down when we preach his glory to your souls, so that when he comes after, he might enlighten them by the presence of his love.

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