Friday, July 1, 2016

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time C

Readings: Is 66:10-14c; Gal 6:14-18; Lk 10:1-12,17-20

This Sunday the readings are about evangelization, the fourth sign of a dynamic Catholic. The prophet Isaiah in the first reading uses the image of sucking milk from mother’s abundant milk to help us see the link between us and our mother Church that feeds and nourishes us. The reading urges us to drink fully of the milk of our mother’s comfort and nurse with delight at her abundant breasts. At times we can starve spiritually to death. Years ago there was a picture of a mother and her baby in Ethiopia during one of the worst droughts that brought a horrible famine and starvation there. The mother could not eat enough food to produce milk for her baby. She sat there, her eyes glazed over with suffering beyond imagination. She sat helplessly watching her baby crying and dying of starvation. The Church faces a similar dilemma today with so many of her children starving spiritually.

Jesus in the Gospel sends out his disciples on a mission to the margins of society, to feed the multitudes who are hungry and thirsting for God’s Word; those who yearn for God’s mercy and for healing. They so urgently need nourishment, healing and God’s mercy. Yes, the harvest is ripe, but at times wasting in the fields. We need more hands and more feet; we need more disciples to go and feed more people with so much needed mercy and compassion. It is so easy to get bogged down in institutions and forget the main focus of our ministry. The purpose of our mission is to nourish God’s people - those on the margins of society, those hungering and thirsting for the Word of God. In the midst of human brokenness, they need wholeness; in the midst of broken married life, they yearn for reconciliation and forgiveness; in the midst of spiritual dehydration, they search for spiritual water to restore their strength. All they are looking for is a word of inspiration that touches them right now.

In the Gospel, Luke uses several images to help us understand the kind of Kingdom the disciples have to announce. The first image is the harvest being abundant. From a human perspective we need a human solution, to organize a workshop on vocations, to employ a vocations director, to mobilize the parishes and round up all the young men and women! Jesus' solution is very simple: pray to the Lord of the harvest to send workers. In contrast, our human tendency is action: setting a task-force to study the matter and writing volumes of books! Of course we need both prayer and action. Family and personal prayer will nourish and help lead to more workers in the vineyard. So what message do we take home this Sunday? 1) The readings focus on our mission of feeding the multitudes who are hungry and thirsting for God’s Word. 2) The reading make us aware of the need for more workers in the vineyard; more volunteers in our parish ministries. Jesus teaches us that family and personal prayer will nourish and help lead to more workers in the vineyard. 3) In the midst of human brokenness, we are called to lead people to wholeness; in the midst of broken married life, we are called to lead couples to reconciliation and forgiveness.

©2016 John S. Mbinda

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