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15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today’s readings speak about our being called by God. I’d like to begin by looking at St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians who reminds us how blessed we are by God and how God continues to bless us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens because God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and unblemished in his sight. To be unblemished means to be good and virtuous. Imagine God choosing us before the foundation of the world. Nothing can exist without a foundation, so if we are chosen before the foundation of the world one can only deduce that God chose us as the foundation. Imagine God Creating us, impels Him to create the world.  God didn’t put his faith in the world but he put his faith in those he chose to live in the world. I find that amazing!


So how do we live up to such an honor? By doing exactly what Paul tells us to do by being holy and unblemished. Just as a mother and father has expectations for their children, God has expectations of us - for we are his children. St. Paul tells us that in him we were chosen and destined, with the purpose of the ‘One’ who accomplishes all things according to the intention of His will. “The one - being the Christ”  that we might exist - for the praise of his glory.


In Christ we have heard the word of truth and the gospel of salvation. We believe in him and are sealed by the Holy Spirit the 1st installment of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s possession - to the praise of his Glory. I don’t think any of us - really understand - what God has done for us.


In today’s Gospel Jesus sends his followers out, two by two giving them authority over unclean spirits, instructing them to take nothing with them but a tunic and sandals while preaching repentance and the forgiveness of sins. Now we come to the question for today of “who is being commissioned to preach the gospel?” I’m sure many of you are thinking - you can’t be talking about me.


Amos tells Amaziah after he’s told not to prophesy in the land of Bethel, that he never considered himself a prophet, nor did he belong to a company of prophets, but he was a shepherd and dresser of Sycamores. He tells Amaziah: It was the Lord who took me from his flock and said to me: Go prophesy to my people Israel. Amos was commissioned by God to be a prophet. One does not need to be a priest or a religious or a catechist to be a prophet. One only needs to be baptized.  When you and I were baptized, we were anointed: priest and prophet and king. Every baptized person is summoned to prophecy even if it’s not their profession. Everyone is to speak God’s word and - share their faith with others


This doesn’t mean we can’t pray privately, but we can’t limit ourselves to private prayer. Our relationship with God and others is dependent on sharing our faith. Where two or more are gathered in my name there I am in the midst of them.  Speaking publicly about God doesn’t mean we need to have a big audience it simply means we just need to speak about our faith now and then. This can happen in little ways by saying: God Bless you or by making the sign of the cross at mealtime especially when in public or speaking to someone about what you hope to accomplish by saying if it’s God’s will or that this is where you feel the lord is leading you today. These statements can have an enormous impact on people. We have to - be courageous and bold about our faith.


We also need to know our faith so we can explain it to others - in the simplest way. We need to be prepared to give them reasons for hope. We need to let others know why we have the love of God in our hearts. When someone asks about our faith, we need to have an answer. People who left the church often say they never got their questions answered. If you and I hope to be one of the Lord’s prophets, we can’t be uncertain with what we believe. We have to know what we believe. I think this is why those who convert later in life are stronger Catholics because they just learned about their faith and it’s fresh in their mind.


Maybe we need to take a refresher class. I remember several occasions after someone had taken classes for Catholicism that their spouse who was raised Catholic would often say they - also learned much about their faith. We don’t need to know everything about our faith we just need to know the basics so we can give people the same hope that we have in God. One of my friends told me when he was about twelve years old, his dad told him that is he was ever questioned about his faith to just recite the Apostles creed. A short time after his dad told him this several people from Jehovah witnesses confronted him (who don’t believe in the Holy Trinity) they told my friend that he didn’t know anything about his faith and he said yes I do: I believe in God the Father Almighty creator of heaven and earth and in Jesus Christ his only son our Lord who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary suffered under Pontius Pilate was crucified died and was buried… the 3rd day he rose from the dead and ascended into heaven… I believe in the holy spirit the holy Catholic Church, the communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting. They walked away before he finished. (if you didn’t notice - I gave you a short version of the creed) but what a great way to be a witness!.      


St Jerome who translated the bible said that being ignorant of Scripture is being ignorant of God. We read in Mark’s Gospel 16:16, whoever believes and is baptized will be saved. We read in John 3; 5 Jesus said: Amen, Amen I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and the spirit. John 3:22 Jesus went into Judea, and spent some time with his apostles baptizing


in John’s Gospel, 20:21 after Jesus rose from the dead, He appeared in the upper room and breathed on his disciples saying to them: peace be with you as the father sent me so I send you Receive the Holy Spirit whose sins you shall forgive shall be forgiven them This passage refers to the sacrament of reconciliation.


In Johns Gospel Ch 6, 53 Jesus says: Unless you eat the flesh of the son of man and drink of his blood you will not have life in you, whoever eats his flesh and drinks his blood has eternal life and I will raise him on the last day. We are told 3000 people left Jesus that day as they said: this is hard to believe. Jesus then turns to his disciples and asks them: Are you going to leave me too, to which Peter responds: Lord, where would we go? We have come to believe and are convinced - you are the holy one of God.


In the book of James 5:13 where we read: if there are sick people among you, let them send for the priests of the church and let the priests pray over them anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of faith will save the sick persons and the lord will raise them up and if they have committed any sins, their sins will be forgiven them. This is the sacrament of the anointing. 


Those who are persons of faith have a responsibility to share their faith. We are commissioned by God to preform great tasks and serve him with due diligence. Last fall 22 students were confirmed at Stella Maris Parish, and like those young men and women, we are called to be witnesses to our faith and role models and examples of Christ to others - so justice may be served and God’s law honored. Like in baptism - the holy Spirit comes to us in the sacrament of confirmation - giving us - the strength and courage we need to proclaim our faith


In Matthews gospel 28:18 after his resurrection, Jesus approaches his disciples saying: All power has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the father and of the son and of the holy spirit teach them to observe all that I have commanded you, and behold I am with you always even to the end of the age     


Like the Disciples, you and I are being commissioned by God to make disciples of all nations, to teach them to observe all that Our lord has commanded us  and to let them know that they too will be saved if they are willing to come to know the love and mercy of Jesus Christ. It doesn’t get any better than that – Go now and be that disciple - you are called to be - bringing others to Christ.


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