Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year B

Burrascano, Anthony.jpg

Fr. Anthony Burrascao, O.S.A.
Saint Augustine Preparatory School
Richland, New Jersey

Am 7:12-15
Ps 85:9-10, 11-12, 13-14
Eph 1:3-14 or 1:3-10
Mk 6:7-13

It can be frustrating in our lives to begin a project and watch it die because no one continues what we started. Jesus began a project, a mission, to make the Kingdom of God known, to make the presence of God known to the people of this world. But as we have seen in recent months, Jesus’ leading this mission on earth ended when he ascended into heaven. But he prepared others to continue that mission. He turned to those who had been with him for several years as the ones to continue his message. He turned to the Apostles.

When you look at who Jesus chose to continue his mission on earth, the Apostles, there is nothing remarkable about them. They are poor, uneducated, unsophisticated men of the region. For the most part they were fishermen and knew little of the world outside their immediate sphere. But of all the possible people of his time, these were the ones who Jesus chose to Call to follow him. When Jesus did Call them, they responded to this man. They did not know who he was, what he was calling them to do and to be, where the journey would lead them, but there was something about this individual standing in front of them which compelled them to immediately leave what they were doing, to leave family, friends, their nets, their very life and to begin to follow this total stranger. So strong was the appeal of this man Jesus that they did not hesitate for a moment. They left all and followed him.

For several years they followed him, listened to him preach, argue with the leaders of his time, watch as he cured the sick, raised the dead to life, reached out and embraced the rejected of society, ate with the sinners showing a relationship with them. They were observers of the great upheaval which Jesus caused.

They came to know the man, but they still did not fully understand who he was and why he was here. They came to hear the message of Jesus of the Kingdom of God, but they did not fully understand it.

Now, they are being Called to a new role. Jesus is returning to his Father in heaven. His time on earth has come to an end, but the mission of Jesus does not end when Jesus leaves this earth; it must continue. Jesus turns to these followers and gives them another Call, another challenge, to go forth and continue his work, to keep his message alive and to spread it. And they did. They trusted Jesus enough that they went without food, money, not even a change of clothes. And Jesus empowered them to continue his mission, to even cure the sick, to drive out demons, to make his message known.

Jesus has returned to heaven. The Apostles are long dead, but the mission and message of Jesus needs to be spread as much today as back then. There is a continued Call for his mission to continue. That Call is given to each and every baptized person.

Do we live as Jesus and the Apostles did in bringing this message to others? Do we, like Jesus, reach out to those in need? Do we embrace the rejected? Do we enter into relationship with the “sinners” of our society? Do we “cure” the sickness of despair, of loneliness, rejection, the hurts that people carry around, sometimes for years? Do we “raise back to life” those who have died emotionally, spiritually, in relations, in hope, in purpose of life? Do we use the power that Jesus gives us in faith to make others aware of the presence of God in our world and their lives? Are we willing to give up of ourselves and enter into that mission of Jesus? Do we trust that Jesus will be with us and give us the necessary power we need to continue making the Kingdom of God known?

The mission of Jesus did not end when he returned to heaven. It did not end when the Apostles’ earthly journey ended. It needs to continue today. It will only continue if the followers of Jesus hear that same Call as the Apostles did and are willing to make known the presence and message of Jesus. Are we willing to open our ears, our hearts and our lives and make the mission and message of Jesus known today, not so much as in words, but in the lives we live?