July 1, 2016

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

The Sunday Readings

Msgr. Owen CampionThe Book of Isaiah is the source of the first reading. In reading any passage of Scripture, it is important to take note of the context in which the work originally was composed. The events, attitudes and personalities within these contexts very significantly influenced what was written. The Bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit, but its various individual authors addressed human concerns and, at times, conditions of their own times.

When this third part of Isaiah was written, God’s Chosen People were not living a life of ease and plenty. Their kingdoms had been destroyed. They had survived exile in Babylon. Somehow, given how arduous a trip on foot across the desert that is now Iraq, Jordan and Syria, they had managed to return home. What they found there was not relief. They had to struggle.

Nevertheless, the prophets, such as the author of the third section of Isaiah, reassured them. God would protect them. He had promised to protect them. They would not die. If they were true to God, they would live. God would give them life.

For its second reading, the liturgy for this weekend gives us a passage from St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians.

Galatians is a virtual treasure trove of deep and compelling revelation into the reality of salvation. Salvation is found in and brought about by Jesus. Christians are given salvation by their bond with Jesus, the Savior.

Thus, this reading calls upon Christians to rejoice in the fact that salvation is within their grasp. It tells them to boast of nothing except that they have been redeemed by the cross of Christ. It also reminds them forcefully that they must tie themselves to the redemption won by Jesus in the sacrificial crucifixion. They must crucify their own instincts and sins and live in the model of the Lord.

Then, consolingly, Paul says that no one is excluded from God’s plan for human salvation. Each person must simply accept a personal place in this plan by turning to God humbly and without qualification.

St. Luke’s Gospel furnishes the last reading. It is a story about the Lord’s commissioning of 72 disciples, whom he sends to prepare for the coming of the Gospel.

Important to the story is the fact that the Lord methodically and carefully instructs these disciples in what they should do as they fulfill the commission given them. They do not just simply go out on their own.

Equally important is the fact that Jesus empowers them to rid the places that they will visit of evil. Demolishing evil is an ability belonging only to God. The Lord gives them this ability.

He also promises them that they themselves will not succumb to whatever destructive forces evil may bring against them.

Reflection

The mindset prevailing in our culture is curious realizing the modern achievements in science. We can control many things, and being in control is an ideal. But our culture broadcasts the notion that we cannot withstand sin, nor should we. Peace is surrendering to our instincts and selfishness.

The culture bids us to overestimate ourselves, suggesting to us that we are much wiser than we are. True, much is known today, but much is unknown, and we still are subject to hurt and to death.

These readings tell us that eternal life, and peace and joy in this life, are the products of salvation in God.

Salvation and life in God await us in Jesus.

The love of God in Jesus is tangible. As gifts to us, and aids for us, Jesus gives us special teachers and leaders in the Church as guides. They have the power, conferred by God, to lead us to true and everlasting life. †

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