A Church ever called to Mission

This Sunday, October 23rd, is World Mission Sunday. In his annual reflection, Pope Francis notes that the most intrinsic work of the Church is missionary. As Jesus ascended into heaven his last words were: You will receive power when the holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
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Condemnation or Lamentation?

This coming Sunday is the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time. In yesterday’s post we encountered the possibility that some towns would not receive the good news of the Kingdom of God at hand. You may have noticed that there is a “gap” in the Sunday gospel. Quite noticeably, the Sunday gospel passes over vv.13-16, sayings that are difficult in themselves, and certainly present larger homiletic challenges for a Sunday morning: 13 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would long ago have repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14 But it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. 15 And as for you, Capernaum, ‘Will you be exalted to heaven? You will go down to the netherworld.’” 16 Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me. And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.” Continue reading

“Peace to this household…”

This coming Sunday is the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time. In yesterday’s post the disciples received their “marching orders.” In today’s post they receive instructions on how to conduct themselves while on the mission. 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.

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The Urgency of the Harvest and Risk of Mission

This coming Sunday is the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time. In yesterday’s post the disciples were commissioned. Today, they are receiving their “marching orders.” 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. Continue reading

Appointing and Instructing the Missioners

This coming Sunday is the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time. In yesterday’s post we framed an understanding of the gospel reading as one of mission. 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


This coming Sunday is the 14th Sunday in Lectionary Cycle C.  Our gospel reading follows immediately on the heels of Jesus moving from Galilee with the intention of reaching Jerusalem (Luke 9:53). He is rejected in the towns of Samaria (vv.51-56) and he challenges the would-be disciples to follow (vv. 57-62). Occurring so quickly after the Transfiguration and prediction of his own passion, death, and resurrection, these scenes, taken together, all point to the coming dangers for aspiring disciples. Each scene brings the disciples’ understandings and expectations into contrast with Jesus’ own mission for the disciples. Discipleship is radical, calling for the unconditional commitment to the redemptive working of God, and to understand that God’s Kingdom has the highest priority and largest claim on one’s life. It is at this point that the 72 disciples are commissioned. Continue reading

Being Open

In today’s gospel we encounter Jesus outside the Galilee in the area of Decapolis, an area of Hellenistic thought and faith practice. Jesus meets someone, “a deaf man who had a speech impediment

he looked up to heaven…and said…’Ephphatha! (that is, ‘Be opened!’) And immediately the man’s ears were opened, his speech impediment was removed, and he spoke plainly.” (Mark 7:34-35)

In terms of the mission of Jesus and the later mission of the Apostles and disciples, it is touchstone and summary: be willing to leave the comfort of your neighborhood, persistent when encountering people not initially open to hearing the Word of God, look to heaven in prayer for ways to remove the barriers, and empower the listener to speak plainly the Word of God to others. Continue reading

Ready or not

In today’s gospel, Jesus “summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two” (Mark 6:7). I wonder what Jesus thought – not in summonsing or sending, but while watching them head down that long road. I wonder if there was the divine thought revolving around the urgency and rightness of the mission to proclaim the Kingdom of God to the world. Right there alongside the human response of “they’re not ready….”? Continue reading

World Mission Sunday

Last evening I attended the annual Franciscan Mission Service celebration/gala. It was 25 years ago that I joined FMS and headed to to Kenya. Yikes! That was brought to my attention when a pre-dinner slide showed the commissioning of overseas group #36. I was in group #7 sitting with a friend who was in group #1. There is a great energy at FMS – and all this right before World Mission Sunday.

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