A view from the kitchen window

As part of formation for solemn vows as a Franciscan friar, you spend a whole year living outside the world of formation and studies. You live with a friar community involved in full-time ministry. I was assigned to a large parish in Raleigh, N.C. It is a large parish with almost 5,000 households and lots of ministries, meetings, activities, and all manner of things that occurred day and night.

One weekday evening after finishing a meal and cleaning up in the kitchen, I happened to look out the window into the parish parking lot. The friary was located in one corner of the 40-acre campus and afforded a view of the whole upper parking lot… (pausing here to recall being in a parish with unlimited parking…sigh!…) Anyway…the entire lot was filled, and lights were on over in the parish offices, meeting rooms, and gathering spaces. Looking over my shoulder I asked my brother friars if any of them had meetings this night. We were all there and not a one of us had a meeting to attend. While we were generally aware of what was going on in the parish, on this particular evening, we could only guess what exactly was unfolding in those gatherings. Continue reading

Sent on Mission

This coming Sunday marks our journey in Ordinary Time, the 14th Sunday in Year C. You can read a complete commentary on the Sunday Gospel here.

1 After this the Lord appointed seventy (-two) others whom he sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit. 2 He said to them, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest. Continue reading

Sending: message

The Message. 12 So they went off and preached repentance. 13 They drove out many demons, and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

The New American Bible (NAB) offers a translation that seems minimally functional – merely reporting that they set out on mission and what they did when they got there. A more literal translation of the verse is: “And the went out and proclaimed so that all might repent.” The second part of the verse is a hina clause in Greek, normally indicating purpose, aim, or goal. The purpose in their proclaiming is that people might repent, that is, have a change in mind/heart. Such preaching will include the demands from God and our failure to live up to them. It also includes the grace of God that accepts the law-breakers. It includes the mandate to speak the truth in such a way that it leads people to repent, to have a change in mind about their own sinfulness and about God’s gracefulness. Continue reading

Sent: provisions

Christ-sending-His-ApostlesCommentary. Rejected by his own family and home crowd, Jesus preaches elsewhere and sends his twelve disciples out with special instructions and powers. It is good to remember that the apostles are not sent out as a reaction to the rejection. The mission of the apostles is part of a larger plan. First, Jesus had call them personally (1:16–20). Then he selected twelve special ones to accompany him (3:13–19). The Twelve, tutored by Jesus and present with him as he healed many from sickness and evil (chapters. 3–5), are now ready to become apostles, in Greek, literally the “ones sent out.” Continue reading

Sent: context

Christ-sending-His-Apostles7 He summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits. 8 He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick—no food, no sack, no money in their belts. 9 They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic. 10 He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave from there. 11 Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them.” 12 So they went off and preached repentance. 13 They drove out many demons, and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them. (Mark 6:7-13) Continue reading

Doubts and all

When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted… (Mt 20:17)

We are a little uncomfortable with that doublet:  worshiped, doubted.  I mean these are the apostles – they have been with Jesus for three years and have seen incredible signs and wonders, the lame have walked, the deaf hear and mute speak.  Surely these apostles would be people of great faith. Continue reading

Mission: peace

70Apostles“Peace to this household…” The instructions for how the disciples should receive hospitality are expanded from 9:4, which simply commanded that they stay wherever they were received. Here the instruction has two parts, with commentary on each: (1) say, “Peace to this house,” and (2) remain in the house where you are received. The peace they offer seems like a tangible gift or even a living reality with a mind of its own. This notion of peace rests on the biblical concept of the word of God as being not only a message but somehow an embodiment of God’s own personality and power (Isa 55:10–11; Jer 20:8–9). The peace-wish of the Christian missionary is more than an expression of good will — it is the offer of a gift from God of which they are privileged to be the ministers and heralds (see 1:2; Acts 6:4). Those who bring spiritual gifts can expect their physical needs to be taken care of by the beneficiaries (v. 7; see Gal 6:6 “the one who is being instructed in the Word should share all good things with his instructor.”). Continue reading

Mission: instructions

70ApostlesCommissioning and Instructing the Missioners. 1 After this the Lord appointed seventy (-two) others whom he sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit. Just prior to sending out these “apostles” (the related verb apostello is used in vv. 1, 3, & 16), James and John indicate their inadequacies by wanting to call down fire to destroy the Samaritans and three “would-be” followers indicate their unwillingness to leave all to follow Jesus. Yet, in spite of these shortcomings among his followers, Jesus sends them out. Continue reading

Mission: context

70Apostles1 After this the Lord appointed seventy (-two) others whom he sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit. 2 He said to them, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest. 3 Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves. 4 Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; and greet no one along the way. 5 Into whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this household. 6 If a peaceful person lives there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you. 7 Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you, for the laborer deserves his payment. Do not move about from one house to another. 8 Whatever town you enter and they welcome you, eat what is set before you, 9 cure the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God is at hand for you.’ 10 Whatever town you enter and they do not receive you, go out into the streets and say, 11 ‘The dust of your town that clings to our feet, even that we shake off against you.’ Yet know this: the kingdom of God is at hand. 12 I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom on that day than for that town… 17 The seventy (-two) returned rejoicing, and said, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name.” 18 Jesus said, “I have observed Satan fall like lightning from the sky. 19 Behold, I have given you the power ‘to tread upon serpents’ and scorpions and upon the full force of the enemy and nothing will harm you. 20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” Continue reading