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14th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Prior to his retirement, Pope Benedict XVI had announced the “New Evangelization,”  A multi-year effort to “Journey with Christ” through Faith, Worship, and Witness.  This effort, started in 2013, concludes this year, but what is it supposed to accomplish?  It’s meant to remind us that the Church exists to evangelize… That is for its members to genuinely live their faith, and thus show the world God’s love.  Pope Francis, in calling for this Jubilee Year of Mercy, enhances this New Evangelization by reminding us that a loving God is also a merciful God, and that we need to mirror the mercy Christ taught us.  Our readings this 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time help us to see what can be accomplished when we seek to spread God’s love…

Isaiah 66:10-14c
Psalm 66:1-3, 4-5, 6-7, 16, 20
Galatians 6:14-18
Luke 10:1-12, 17-20 or 10:1-9

Our first reading is from the closing chapter of the book of the prophet Isaiah.  The Babylonian exile is over, and Jerusalem is again the center of God’s people, destined to be a beacon for the nations to see God’s love an mercy.  The sheer joy expressed by the prophet has us looking to the Lord as a mother looks to her children.  For through the Lord we shall “flourish like the grass.”  In other words, as servants of the Lord, we thrive.  This reading also gives us a rare reflection of God as mother.  For too long our faith has developed a tendency to view God as “father” while forgetting that God is also “mother.”  The prophetic view of God as mother is well documented in scripture, and helps us to see the type of love God has for us.  It’s a joy that is well expressed in our Psalm as we sing, “Let all the earth cry out to God with joy!”

Our second reading concludes our study of Paul’s letter to the Galatians.  One of the primary threads in this letter is that we are no longer Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons.  We are all one.  And this is accomplished through our Baptism, when we die to our old self, and rise to our new self.  in Paul’s words, we become a “new creation.”  The Galatians were ancient Celts who settled in the territory of what is modern day Ancyra in, Turkey.  They were mostly converts from paganism with no connection to Judaism.  He therefore used himself as an example, how he was one way before following Christ but now a new person, a new creation, after becoming a follower of Christ.  He equated his scars (from various floggings, stonings, and beatings) as symbols of his devotion to Christ, just as the “brands” many ancient pagans carried to honor their gods.  It didn’t matter who you were, what you looked like, or what you believed before… because once you commit to Christ, you become something new.

Our Gospel from Luke supports both these readings in their joy of being followers and their enthusiastic acceptance of the gospel way of life.  Here we have Jesus commissioning the Seventy-two.  We may remember the story of Jesus telling the 12 Apostles to go out and minister to the people.  After the success of that mission we have a follow-up story unique to Luke, where Jesus commissions an additional seventy-two disciples to go out just as the twelve did, without money or personal belongings, to heal the sick and preach the gospel.  The commissioning of this larger group reminds us that as a follower of Christ, we too must go out and preach the Gospel, and like the Jews returning to Jerusalem in our first reading, and the disciples returning from their mission, we will be filled with joy...  a joy found in service to others.

Final thoughts:
We Americans get so caught up with the celebration of our Independence Day on July 4th, we tend to forget the Feast of Our Lady of Refuge on July 5th.  In fact, the date for this feast was set so that it would not conflict with the US holiday, while the feast is still celebrated on July 4th in Mexico and other Latin American countries.  The celebration dates back to 1843 when founding bishop of Alta and Baja California, Francisco Diego Garcia y Moreno, stood on the steps of Mission Santa Clara de Asis and proclaimed Our Lady of Refuge as patroness of the two Californias.  You can read more about this feast on these web sites:


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