15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B

 

Sunday Church at Home

during the Coronavirus Pandemic

 

 

The Announcement of the Gospel.

 

The leader makes the sign of the cross, saying:

 

Leader:          In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

 

All reply:       Amen

 

Leader:          Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

All reply:       Blessed be God for ever

 

Leader:         Today’s readings tell us we are called by God, blessed with every spiritual blessing and sent out to spread Christ’s love.

 

LITURGY OF THE WORD

 

First Reading: Amos 7: 12-15

 

Introduction to the reading: Amos preached about 750 years before Christ and was the first prophet whose words were put into writing. At that time, the Jewish people were split into two kingdoms: Israel in the north and Judah in the south. God sent Amos from the southern kingdom of Judah to preach to the people in the north. So he faithfully went there, to a place known as the shrine of Bethel. As so often happens to prophets, the priest wasn’t pleased that he came.

 

A reading from the Book of the Prophet Amos

In those days:
Amaziah the priest of Bethel said to Amos,
“O seer, go, flee away to the land of Judah,
and eat bread there, and prophesy there;
but never again prophesy at Bethel,
for it is the king’s sanctuary,
and it is a temple of the kingdom.”

Then Amos answered Amaziah,
“I am no prophet, nor a prophet’s son
but I am a herdsman, and a dresser of sycamore trees,
and the Lord took me from following the flock,
and the Lord said to me,
‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’

The word of the Lord.

 

 

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 85:9ab & 10.11-12.13-14 (R. 8)

Let us now pray the Responsorial Psalm:

R/. Let us see, O Lord, your mercy,
and grant us your salvation.

I will hear what the Lord God speaks;
he speaks of peace for his people and his faithful.
His salvation is near for those who fear him,
and his glory will dwell in our land.

Merciful love and faithfulness have met;
justice and peace have kissed.
Faithfulness shall spring from the earth,
and justice look down from heaven.

Also the Lord will bestow his bounty,
and our earth shall yield its increase.
Justice will march before him,
and guide his steps on the way.

R/. Let us see, O Lord, your mercy,
and grant us your salvation.

 

Second Reading: Ephesians 1:3-14

Introduction to the reading: Today and for the next few weeks, we will be reading from the letter to the Ephesians. Ephesus, a major seaport on the western coast of what is today Turkey, was a center for early Christians. Today’s passage is the beginning of the letter and is a prayer praising God for the good things God has done for us.

 

A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Ephesians

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us in Christ
with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,
even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world,
that we should be holy and blameless before him.
He destined us in love to be his children through Jesus Christ,
according to the purpose of his will,
to the praise of his glorious grace
which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.
In him we have redemption through his blood,
the forgiveness of our trespasses,
according to the riches of his grace which he lavished upon us.
For he has made known to us in all wisdom and insight
the mystery of his will,
according to his purpose which he set forth in Christ
as a plan for the fulness of time,
to unite all things in him,
things in heaven and things on earth.

In him, according to the purpose
of him who accomplishes all things
according to the counsel of his will,
we who first hoped in Christ
have been destined and appointed
to live for the praise of his glory.
In him you also, who have heard the word of truth,
the gospel of your salvation,
and have believed in him,
were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,
who is the guarantee of our inheritance
until we acquire possession of it,
to the praise of his glory.

The word of the Lord.

 

Alleluia, alleluia.
May the Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ
enlighten the eyes of our heart that we might know
what is the hope to which he has called us.
Alleluia.

 

Gospel: Mark 6:7-13

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Mark

Jesus called to him the twelve,
and began to send them out two by two,
and gave them authority over the unclean spirits.
He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff;
no bread, no bag, no money in their belts;
but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics.
And he said to them, “Where you enter a house,
stay there until you leave the place.
And if any place will not receive you
and they refuse to hear you,
when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet
for a testimony against them.”
So they went out and preached that people should repent.
And they cast out many demons
and anointed with oil many that were sick and healed them.

 

The Gospel of the Lord

 

Reflection on the Readings

The leader reads the text prepared by the priest and leads the sharing.

Homily

I would like to share a parable with you. The mayor of a certain town decided to hold a harvest festival. All, without exception, were invited. The mayor himself offered to provide the food. To ensure that there would be adequate wine, each guest was asked to bring along a bottle of white wine. The wine would be poured into a huge cask from which all could drink. The day of the festival arrived. Everyone in town showed up. Thanks to the generosity of the mayor, there was an abundance of food. Each guest duly arrived with a bottle of wine and poured it into the cask. When all was ready the mayor went to the cask. An aide tapped it and filled the mayor’s glass. Holding up the glass, the mayor said, ‘I declare the festival open.’ Then he took a drink out of the glass only to discover that it was not wine but water. It seems that each guest had argued like this: ‘My contribution won’t be missed.’ So instead of bringing a bottle of wine they had brought a bottle of water. The festival was ruined!

 

It is a great challenge to us all to be active, not passive followers of Christ; to be not only receivers but also givers. Something is asked of every person. And everybody’s contribution, no matter how small, is important.

“Amaziah the priest of Bethel said to Amos,
“O seer, go, flee away to the land of Judah,
and eat bread there, and prophesy there;
but never again prophesy at Bethel,”

Why is Amaziah so upset with Amos?

We are in the 8th century before the Christian era and Amaziah is the priest in the courts of the king. It is a time of peace and prosperity for Israel and the rich feel quite secure. It is also a time of decadence, the people are ignoring the covenant God made with them. Amaziah is telling the court just what it wants to hear and he, with so many others, has given up on God, relying on the powers of the government for security.

Amos is a shepherd and dresser of sycamores. Apparently sycamores in the Middle East bear a simple fruit that, in order to be edible, requires a dressing of the tree. Someone who knows how to nip buds was needed to get better fruit. (How’s that for an image of a prophet!) The fruit was also the food of the poor.

So, Amos does not come out of the court, nor is he a prophet from the organized religion. He is rough and ready, and says he is the champion of the Lion of Judah (1:2). Amos has been having his prophetic visions and the text today, the encounter between him and Amaziah, is a break in these visions. Amaziah wants Amos out of town.

Amos protests that he did not choose to be a prophet, but that God chose him. Nor does he have anything to do with other prophets. His message will be received for its own worth and not that of any official, or public office. It is the message that is important and God chooses the messengers God wants to convey it.

In the Gospel, we hear about Jesus sending the Twelve to preach and heal. Both The Twelve  and Amos were ordinary people whom God chose to represent and preach God’s message. Amos wasn’t highly educated; that’s not the primary requisite to be a spokesperson for God. If it were, Amos, the Twelve and other prophetic voices, would not have been chosen – and we would not have been the poorer without their voices.

According to both the Old and the New Testaments, God has a habit of calling on plain, ordinary people, like us, to speak God’s message and do God’s work.

Our second reading from Ephesians has a similar message. We are people chosen by God and equipped with special gifts and particular tasks.

Ephesians is not saying that we have been programmed from all eternity without regard for our freedom. We are free to choose; to say “yes” or “no” to God’s invitation to serve. It is not about predestination – some of us chosen to be saved, others not. Not that kind of predestination. Rather, we have chosen to know Christ and his salvation.

In Christ, we are called to be holy, full of love and sent to continue Christ’s work in the world – a work of praise, peace and reconciliation which God wishes to bestow on all peoples through us – disciples of Jesus Christ.

Jesus spells out our responsibility and describes how we are to carry it out. We know that Jesus was rejected by his own town (Mark 6:1-6). Now, Jesus sends his disciples to outsiders, to whomever would receive in their message.

What have these outsiders done to deserve the attention of the messengers, the good news and healings they bring? Nothing, but to be in need and to be open to God, who reaches out to help the needy through God’s appointed messengers.

In our modern society, we want to be fully equipped and trained for the jobs given to us. What special equipment are the messengers to bring with them to win people over to Christ? Well, they were allowed a walking stick and sandals – nothing else. How will these disciples succeed? Not based on their own powers, wit, or persuasive gifts. No baggage, or resources they could carry would guarantee success. In some situations they will be welcomed; in others not. No matter, when they are rejected they are not to be discouraged, but to move on to others who will receive them.

What about us modern messengers of Jesus? We too have been summoned. When our Eucharist is over, we are sent forth as Jesus’ personal messengers. Jesus wants us to promote his gospel by our words and deeds in the world. To do it, we need to trust in the Lord’s presence to guide us.

How can we tell the story of Jesus to our world?

Jesus sent his disciples with power over unclean spirits. What would be unclean spirits in today’s world? They would be things like: addictions, environmental abuse, global warming, violence, neglect of the poor, rejection of refugees, pornography, abuse in the home, gender based violence and more.

When I think of all these ‘unclean spirits’ in our world, I feel overwhelmed by it all. I feel insignificant in the face of these things that threaten to consume and destroy us.

We can offer a prayer for wisdom at today’s celebration; for insight, courage and a simple, trusting spirit in Jesus’ accompanying us on our assigned tasks.

A prayer for wisdom does not mean asking God to miraculously fix the problem while I sit back and do nothing. Prayer for wisdom transforms us and gives us the grace to get off our backsides and do what is necessary.

We are not on our own. God has given us his Holy Spirit.

From today’s Gospel reading:

Jesus summoned the Twelve
and began to send them out two by two
and gave them authority over unclean spirits.

Reflection:

The sending of apostles did not end when Jesus sent out the Twelve, or on the last pages of the four Gospels. We too have been summoned to advance the reign of God, to act and speak in the spirit of Jesus.

So we ask ourselves: 

  • Do I think of myself as an “apostle?”
  • Where and to whom is Jesus sending me now?
  • What can I do about protecting the environment – global warming?

 

Prayer of the Faithful

 

Leader:          We come before God the Father in faith and hope, asking him to listen to our needs and those of our suffering world.

 

Reader:

We pray for Pope Francis: (pause) that the Lord may strengthen him in his mission of service to those most in need of love. May his openness and compassion be an encouragement to all Christians, especially parents as they seek to show tenderness and love to their children.

LORD HEAR US

 

We pray for those whose lives, like that of Amos, are marked by segregation and discrimination. May our world be given prophets who will speak for those who are voiceless and remind us that justice and equality are every person’s human right.

LORD HEAR US

 

We pray for our parish, remembering that each one of us has been blessed in Christ. We ask that this truth find expression in our love for, and care of, one another.

LORD HEAR US

 

We ask God’s grace to become more effective messengers of the Good News, bringing the joy of the Gospel to all those we encounter.

LORD HEAR US

 

We pray for the protection of the human family: (pause) that God will strengthen those who are working to defeat the Covid virus, speed resources to those in crisis, and bring healing to all who are sick.

LORD HEAR US

 

We pray for deceased members of our families and friends whose anniversaries occur about this time.

LORD HEAR US

 

We pray for Irma Lowman and Pat Allen who died during the week.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord.

And let perpetual light shine on them.

May they rest in peace.  Amen

 

Leader:          Let us pray our PRAYER DURING THE CORONVIRUS PANDEMIC:

 

God of Love,
we turn to you with prayerful hearts
and with confidence in your loving presence among us
now and in every moment of our lives.

 

We implore your mercy
as we face the third wave of coronavirus infections.

Guide our efforts to prevent contagion
and make preparations to care for those most vulnerable.

Assist all professionals and volunteers
who work to eradicate the pandemic.
May our actions be marked
by your steadfast love and selfless service
and never by panic or fear.

Bestow your comfort and healing to the sick,
sustain and strengthen them by your grace.

May they know your closeness
as they carry the cross of illness.

And may all you have called from this life
come to worship you eternally with all the saints
as you grant consolation and peace to their mourners.

Amen.

 

Holy Mary, Health of the Sick, pray for us.

St. Joseph, Hope of the Sick, pray for us.

 

 

Spiritual Communion

We can unite ourselves to the Eucharist through making a spiritual Communion.

By making an Act of Spiritual Communion, we express our faith in Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist and ask him to unite himself with us.

 

My Jesus, I believe you are really here in the Blessed Sacrament.
I love you more than anything in the world, and I hunger to receive you.
But since I cannot receive Communion at this moment, feed my soul spiritually. I unite myself to you now as I do when I receive you. Amen.

 

 

 

CONCLUDING RITE

 

Leader:          Let us pray to the Father in the words Jesus our Saviour gave us:

 

All say:          Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  Amen.

Leader:          God of justice, God of salvation,
from every land you call a people to yourself.
Yours is the work we do,
yours the message we carry.

Keep your Church single-minded and faithful to you.
Let failure not discourage us
nor success beguile our hearts,
as you send us to proclaim the gospel.

We make our prayer through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever.

All:                  Amen.

 

Leader:          May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life.

 

All:                 Amen.