Thursday, July 12, 2012

"So they went off and preached repentance."

We turn to this Sunday’s gospel account for July 15, 2012 in which it is reported that Jesus sent The Twelve out into the world, two by two, so that they might evangelize all whom they would encounter. Our Discussion Questions will guide your Sunday Bible Study with family, friends and church groups.

We are Church

The point we must consider is that Jesus did not send out His apostles individually. He sent them in pairs. This means our religious lives are both individual and communal at the same time.

Fr. Charles Irvin says the Christian religion is not a “me and Jesus” religion, it is a “we and Jesus” religion. The Catholic Church is not simply a voluntary association of like-minded individuals who have banded together to form a social institution or legal entity. The Church is not a man-made institution. Rather it is something given to us by God in Christ in which we live, move, and have our being. The Catholic Church is ours, not mine. It is a family, not a club in which I decide to take our membership.

The Church, Father Cusick explains, is the body of Christ not just in receiving his divine life and love, but in giving it as well. Christ sent the Twelve out "two by two" and he also sends us forth. The Church is continually on the mission to evangelize all nations.

And We Are Called

The Church teaches that every person who is baptized and confirmed receives directly from Christ a mandate to share in his prophetic mission. Prophet literally means spokesman.

When the Gospels relate to us the call extended by Jesus to his young disciples and apostles, it is always done in a very compassionate way. Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB explains that Jesus looks upon those whom he calls; He loves them, challenges them and calls them to be something they could hardly fathom. While most of us will never be called to utter oracles that predict the future, Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio reminds us that we all are called to speak in behalf of God a message that sometimes challenges people and other times brings comfort.

To this end , Fr. John Foley, S. J. wants to propose that in Christian life the primary motivation for going on a mission is gratitude. You are loved. And ready to be sent.

Our Inability to Cast Out Demons

Four were fishermen. One was a hated tax collector. One a political zealot. There was nothing extraordinary about any of the twelve that Jesus sent out to preach, to heal and to expel demons. They were ordinary people, given instructions to conduct themselves like prophets. And the Word of God worked through them.

This gospel of the Lord's commissioning disciples to carry forward His mission may remind us of our inadequacy. But paradoxically, Fr. Campion P. Gavaler, OSB points out, it also reminds us of our dignity and importance. God depends not only on Jesus in His humanity, but on the successors of the Twelve and on each of us to be co-creators and co-christs in bringing about a kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. God uses you to make His Presence real for me and for others. Fr. Joseph Pelligrino says we are ordinary people called to do extraordinary things.

But here's the lesson as pointed out by Fr. Ron Rolheiser: We must do more than just point out the right road to others, we must be on that road ourselves. For this reason, the integrity of our private lives and private morals, down to the smallest detail, is the real power behind our words. Archbishop Charles Chaput frames it well during his July 4 homily in Washington DC last week for the closing of the Fortnight for Freedom, "In the end, we're missionaries of Jesus Christ, or we're nothing at all."

So, spend some time this week reflecting on how the Lord has called you to be a disciple. How does Christ make a difference in your life? What has His call demanded of you? Is it possible to be a committed disciple of Jesus, yet still experience weakness and failure? To whom are you being sent, to teach and to heal?

Beyond the Fortnight for Freedom

What began two weeks ago on the eve of the liturgical feasts of Saints Thomas More and John Fisher — two Tudor-period martyrs who died defending the freedom of the Church — ended on the Fourth of July. The Fortnight of Freedom was a summons to a new moral and political seriousness in the United States. George Weigel says that summons is not for Catholics only. And it continues to march forward to the November elections.

Related to this, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops urged Congress and the Obama administration to repair flaws to the Affordable Care Act after the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday issued a decision upholding the law. While Jennifer Fulwiler tackles Gay Marriage as she relates a sincere and honest conversation she had with a male gay friend and his partner.

Elizabeth Scalia responds to people who challenge why we build beautiful churches. She bristles when people talk about “frivolous beauty” or “liturgical pomp.” And when they declare that beautiful things should be stripped down and sold for the poor. She says beauty feeds the soul. And we need our beautiful churches. The poor, Jesus said, we will “always have”. He lived with and for ordinary, struggling people. And though His life, He kept trying to tell us that all of our solutions are not found in money. But we keep missing the point, don’t we?

I've also noticed that often youth ministry leaders seem to be intrigued by the "exciting" youth programs offered by the Protestant churches. Brett McCracken shares "The Perils of 'Wannabe Cool' Christianity" because it offers a truth that the Catholic Church has known and maintained all along. It's really not about the sizzle, it's all about the steak. We think this will be a very enlightening piece for everyone involved in youth ministry.

Top Ten Lists & Some

Pope love Top Ten Lists. So we're sharing everal with you starting with the "Top Ten Saints For Sinners." If you're struggling with sin, if temptations are half-killing you, if all seems lost - maybe have a word with one of the following saints in prayer, and ask for a little help. After all, as our ParishWorld Theology editor always reminds me, we are a community. Next, Mary O'Regan wants you to meet 10 of the world’s most amazing priests. Gary Zimak follows this with his "10 Great Tips To Help You PRAY (not just SAY) The Rosary."

And you You know how sometimes you’ll be reading the Bible and completely miss something really shocking or interesting? In our semi-gnostic quest for secretive scriptural stuff, Micah Murphy lists 10 Bible verses almost nobody notices. These are the verses (or short clusters of verses) people tend to gloss over when reading the Bible. And he rounds this up with five fun, interesting things most people either didn’t know or simply forgot about the Bible. They miss all the good stuff, but you won’t. Enjoy!

Stories of hope

We bring you this week several stories that will inspire. The first one is about those lone, scruffy figures at intersections and freeway underpasses holding bent cardboard signs, asking for a handout. Marion Fernandez-Cueto talks about a dear lesson she learned at the stop light. Next Tim Drake reflects on one financially tough summer. Unemployed, he tried to shield their children from this reality as best he can. And when his birthday came along, the best present came from his little son who gave him a sealed envelope filled with jingling coins -- all $6.15 of them.

Pus here's two Catholic celebrity stories. First, in the blizzard of reports surrounding Tom Cruise's recent split with Katie Holmes, this one stands out: After her years married to Scientologist Cruise, Holmes is said to be rejoining the Roman Catholic Church of her youth. She has reportedly registered to become a parish member in a New York Catholic church. And you knew that Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal was born and raised a Hindi by his parents? But did you know that he converted to Catholicism as a teenager and he been a practicing Catholic since?

It's Summer Time

Summer is finally here, so let the vacation planning begin! Airline tickets: check. Hotel and rental car reservations: check. Bags packed and ready to go: check. Catholic church selected near our destination and appropriate clothes packed: huh? Peggy Bowes says you don’t take a Vacation from your Sunday obligation.

And as you walk to that parked car baking in the hot summer sun, think about this. Even with fancy reflecting shades and window tint, leaving a car parked in the sun inevitably turns it into a blast furnace. Jason Fitzpatrick suggests you decrease the amount of time it takes to cool your car off by using this simple six-step process.

Another eventful week in our Catholic World. Have a great and blessed new week.

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief

BURNING QUESTION: Why don't Catholics evangelize door-to-door?
FEATURED BLOG: The Perils of 'Wannabe Cool' Christianity
PASTORAL HISPANA: Jesus muestra el camino

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