July 17, 2009

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

The Sunday Readings

Msgr. Owen CampionThe prophecy of Jeremiah provides this Liturgy of the Word with its first reading.

While the writings of prophets are plentiful in the Bible, in reality today we have access to the words of only a few of the many prophets who certainly were active among God’s people during the many centuries before Christ.

Of course, the words of Jeremiah, or at least some of those words, are available to us. They are contained in the Book of Jeremiah, an important inclusion in the Hebrew Scriptures.

However, Jeremiah likely was not alone as a prophet in his time and, surely to his distress, others who were not authentic representatives of God presented themselves to the people. These misled or deliberately misleading figures, who assumed 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, in this reading Jeremiah writes on behalf of God. The prophet uses the first person to speak the mind of God. Clearly, God speaks through Jeremiah. This precisely is the impression that Jeremiah wishes to convey to the people.

God rejects these falsely constituted prophets. Obviously, God has not appointed them. They should be ignored.

Jeremiah is God’s chosen representative. Jeremiah’s voice is the voice of God.

Authenticity is one issue. Another fact is that God has provided for the people. He instructs them and guides them.

The Epistle to the Ephesians supplies the next reading this weekend.

This message is typical of this epistle and of Pauline theology. 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 humankind 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.

Throughout all four of the Gospels, the Apostles were crucial figures in fulfilling the divine plan of salvation achieved in and by Jesus.

This reading makes quite evident two aspects of their role.

First, they were the Lord’s special students, hearing and seeing what was not said or shown to others.

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

Second, they were commissioned to teach the Good News. Even before Jesus was crucified, even before Jesus ascended to heaven, they were sent out to the highways and byways. They went as the Lord’s representatives, repeating what they had been taught.

At the end of a mission, they returned to Jesus to report their efforts and be assigned to a new area of ministry.


This weekend, the Church brings us face to face with a reality 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 come from within us. They may be from other persons or they may have their origin in the culture and popular attitudes of the 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, and 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 provided the Apostles for us. They knew the Lord, and he taught them. God sent them to us.

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

Local site Links: