July 20, 2012

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time / Msgr. Owen F. Campion

The Sunday Readings

Msgr. Owen CampionThe prophecy of Jeremiah provides the first reading.

The reading is about God’s authentic messengers as well as those who are not called by the Lord to be prophets.

It was an important question since Jeremiah likely was not alone as a prophet in his time.

In addition, others who were not authentic representatives of God presented themselves to the people. These self-proclaimed prophets, who were misled or deliberately misleading by assuming for themselves the prophetic mantle, easily could point the people away from God.

Understandably, Jeremiah looked upon these interlopers with dismay and even alarm.

To emphasize the falseness and peril of these would-be prophets, Jeremiah uses the first person to speak the mind of God in this reading.

Jeremiah wishes to convey the image and authority of being God’s voice.

Authenticity is so very important because God, seeing the needs of the people, speaks to them and guides them.

Jeremiah knows that God’s word is vitally important, and no imposter, even if not malicious, can be the medium through which God is heard.

The underlying consolation is that God provides for the people. They are not left to the perils that inevitably come when their behavior ignores God.

St. Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians supplies the second reading this weekend.

It is typical of the kernel of Pauline theology itself. For Paul, central and utterly essential to every thought is that Christ is everything. In Christ, all the faithful are redeemed. In Christ, the faithful possess true life and can anticipate eternal life.

The Lord Jesus, the Son of God, the lamb of Calvary, reconciled fallen, sinful people with God. His redemption, sealed in the Crucifixion, bridged the gap created between God and humanity by sin.

St. Mark’s Gospel provides the last reading.

This reading tells a story, one among so many similar stories in the four Gospels, in which the crucial role of the Apostles in the mission of Jesus is shown.

The Apostles were the Lord’s special students. They were chosen for a purpose, namely to be the authentic spokesmen of Jesus wherever eventually they would go. It was critical that they know the Lord’s message so Jesus took them aside and taught them.

They heard and saw what was not in the hearing or sight of all the others.

Therefore, more than any of the contemporaries of Jesus, they were prepared to teach the Good News of salvation.

Even before Jesus was crucified, even before Jesus ascended, the Apostles were sent into the highways and byways to spread the Good News. They went as the Lord’s representatives, and repeated what they had been taught. At the end of a mission, they returned to Jesus to report on their efforts then to be sent out again on behalf of the Lord.

Reflection

This weekend, the Church brings us face to face with a reality that is very important as we seek our own salvation.

Voices contrary to the Gospel, or even vying with God for our allegiance, surround us. The voices may even come from within us. Or they may be from other persons or originate in the secular culture and popular attitudes of our time.

These voices lure us to our own distress and danger. God is still our Savior. He provides for us.

This weekend, in these readings, the Church insists that we need God, that there is no substitute for God and that God reaches out to meet our needs.

Always, God has reached out to guide people. Long, long ago, he provided the prophets, such as Jeremiah, to help the people.

Then God gave us Jesus. The Lord also provided the Apostles for us. They knew and heard the Lord. He selected them to give us the words of salvation and access to divine life itself.

The Apostles formed the Church. It still endures, relying upon the Apostles and those whom they selected to follow them in continuing Christ’s redemption of the world. †

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