Luke and Matthew relate the same story heard in this gospel from Mark. With Luke, you do realize, it was hearsay … he was not there to give an eye-witness account. It’s interesting to see the minor, but specific differences in the three accounts. For example, here where Mark says, “take no money,” Matthew lays out the details, saying “take no silver, gold or copper coins.” With his usual specificity he covers all the bases, not just the coinage in current use. Matthew begins his account of Jesus’ reminder to his disciple-missionaries: “You received without paying, so now give without being paid.” Where we read in Mark “whatever house you enter,” Matthew is more direct: “Look for someone to welcome you.” And, if when you wish them peace it is not returned, “take back your greeting.” Unlike today’s account by Mark, both Luke and Matthew quote Jesus telling the disciples what not to take on their missionary journey: “take no beggar’s bag.” [An interesting side note: St. Benedict tells his followers when they go on a journey to take clean underwear, launder and return it when they return from their journey.]
Jesus instructs his disciples to live dependent on the hospitality of the community, just as Jesus depended on others to provide for his needs. Remember what he told one of his potential followers – “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” Jesus expected his disciples to “eat what is served, be satisfied with the bedding provided, follow their schedule, and don’t try to go it alone.” Remind you of the Benedict’s norms?
So let’s from all Jesus’ DON’T cautions, look at what Jesus says IS appropriate for our journey in order to carry on the mission of Jesus.
The first thing Jesus recommends is that we travel two by two. He is reminding us that we don’t have to go it alone. We need a good support system as we experience life’s ups and downs; sunrises and sunsets; pandemics and family times of togetherness. Sharing the good times is as important as sharing the not so great times.
Reminds me of an event years ago at the Special Olympics 100-meter dash. Shortly after the start of the race one of the participants fell. His sobs caught the attention of the other eight runners. With little hesitation, they turned back, lifted up their fallen friend, locked arms and all crossed the finish line together. The crowd rose to their feet and CHEERED for a long time. These young people were all winners! They understood that what really matters is supporting one another even if it means slowing down and changing the course to your intended goal.
Jesus continues: He recommends sandals for our feet and a tunic, but not a second of anything. (How does your closet hold up to this mirror?) Jesus asks us not to carry so much in our gunny sacks. Stuffing our sacks full does nothing to change the situation – just adds wrinkles to our brow and sours our spirit. Do what Jesus says: “shake the dust off your feet” and move on.
Jesus gives his approval to our carrying and using a walking stick. That way we can keep moving when we encounter ruts and pebbles and unexpected sharp turns in our path. Add support when you became worn out, tired and weary or wander off the edge of the road. (Listen for the sound of those rumble strips – they are not just for decoration. They call us to “stay alert”.) A good walking stick helps us stay upright and get past mistakes which could hinder our spiritual growth and practice of conversio. And, beyond that, it’s a fact that in order to do what we say in our community Corporate Commitment. If we hope to “alleviate the hungers of the people of God with the compassion of Christ,” we must first be compassionate with ourselves. (Corporate Commitment Statement)
Today Jesus sends us out once again, with authority over unclean spirits … over the rancor, the violence, the rudeness, the degrading language and actions, the insensitivity. The list could go on and on. We can conquer the darkness with a refusal to lower our behavior, language and standards. We can “shake that dust from our feet” and support actions on behalf of justice and peace because we are traveling “two by two,” with the sturdy walking stick of community and prayer, and wearing the sandals of our vows. Like the disciples, we heed Jesus’ admonition to stay put in the house where they took us in, we can anoint others with inclusivity, affirmation and peace. Pray God we stay the course…
~Reflection by Sister Roberta Bailey, OSB
First Reading : Amos 7:12-15 Second Reading: Ephesians 1:3-14
Gospel: Mark 6:7-13
Summer Feast of St. Benedict 2021
July 11th we Benedictines normally celebrate the summer feast of St. Benedict. However, since this year the 11th falls on a Sunday, the 14th Sunday of Ordinary time takes precedence. So at Holy Name we will celebrate on Monday, July 12th.
A few years ago, in an issue of the journal from the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration there was a good article by Sister Bede Luetkemeyer. What follows is an abbreviation of her words:
“Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.” Saint Benedict, in the Prologue to his Rule, addresses those who “long for life. His advice is “Keep your tongue free from vicious talk and your lips from all deceit; turn away from evil and do good; let peace be your quest and aim. Once you have done this, my eyes will be upon you and my ears will be open to your prayer.”
If we were to abbreviate this quote, we might say: “God will hear our prayers when we put away vicious talk.” This can be a surprising and disturbing thought: having our prayers heard depends on how we use our tongue.
The gift of speech is one of the most powerful gifts God has given us, but it probably evokes less gratitude than any other. Habitual use of speech bends to make us unconscious of the many times our speech verges on being critical, or, to use the adjective in the psalm, “vicious” talk.
Not many of us are humble enough to make amends for wounding words. We depend on time and the good will of others to wipe out what has been said, but the wounds of hurtful words can never be totally erased. Despite our best efforts to heal relationships, the scars remain.
Perhaps the first step is admitting that we are burdened with the habit of speaking without paying attention to what we say. Jesus goes literally to the heart of the problem. He speaks of the words that “come from the heart.” These are the words that are first formulated in the mind and take on the emotions that issue from them. Hence, controlling our thoughts is our first task. Discernment of our thoughts in the manner of the early monks cuts off the evil before it reaches the heart. If our words do not come from a humble heart they will fall on deaf ears.
One of the familiar practices from the past is the daily examination of conscience. Recalling our conversations and labeling them as hurtful or helpful becomes habitual. We can train ourselves to think before we speak, to take a prior account of the possible consequences of our speech. It is better to judge ourselves than to hear Jesus’ warning, “I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment.” (Mt 12:36)
Another effective way of learning how to use the tongue is learning the virtue of silence. The recommendations for the practice of silence are frequent in Scripture and in the ancient rules of the Desert Fathers. Although the Desert Fathers sometimes practiced perpetual silence, we are not called to that extreme. Rather, Scripture describes moderate speech that flows from wisdom. Benedict lists four qualities of such speech in his chapter on humility: serious, brief, gentle, reasonable.
The teachings of Benedict are taken from the Scriptures and so are meant for everyone. One of the reminders Benedict uses in his chapter on silence is taken from the Book of Proverbs: “In the multitude of words, there shall not want sin.” (Prv 10:19) One of the Desert Fathers (teaches): “A person may seem to be silent, but if s/he is condemning others, she is babbling ceaselessly. But there may be another who talks from morning til night and yet she is truly silent, that is, she says nothing that is not profitable.”
External silence is impossible until we learn to control the unending conversation that is going on in our (heads). A 20th century Russian Orthodox monk wrote about prayer and the Christian life, “When we listen to someone we think we are silent because we do not speak; but our minds continue to work, our emotions react, our will responds for or against what we hear … The real silence towards which we must aim as a starting point is a complete repose of mind and heart and will.”
We might wonder what happens to spontaneity, to having a chat without having to think about every word we say. Jesus assures us that out of the contents of our heart our mouth will speak. If we guard our hearts from evil and our minds from negative thoughts, our words will arise spontaneously without guilt, reflecting the goodness we have stored away.
God alone utters the perfect word, the speech without fault. By pondering the perfections of Jesus, we come to own the good word of which the Psalmist speaks: “My heart overflows with a good theme; my tongue is ready like the pen of a scribe.” (Ps 45:1)
“There can be no preaching in the wrong atmosphere.”
William Barclay (1907-1978)
This reading from Mark’s Gospel reminds us that God sends prophets into our midst for our benefit. The question is: Are we open-minded enough to listen to new ideas and insights, to allow our attention to be re-directed to things we have ignored or taken for granted? For instance: how have we listened to, implemented Pope Francis’ invitation to care for all of creation, human and non-human? Normally, papal documents are addressed to the bishops of the Church to disseminate and promote through their diocese. But, Pope Francis addresses his message directly to us, his friends, the people of God.
You’ve heard the expression: “You can’t tell a book by its cover.” All too often we judge the “cover.” We get so bogged down in appearances, in the humanity of the proclaimer that we refuse to listen to the proclamation. Who does she/he think she/he is?
You may have seen episodes of “America’s Got Talent” when you knew by the judges’ interaction with the performers that they were writing off this act before the contestant got started. Like the time when the three fellows looking like they’d just rolled out of bed came on stage. When they opened their mouths, spell-binding tenor music poured forth into the auditorium where hundreds, along with the judges, sat in stunned silence, open-mouthed, on the edges of their seats realizing what a terrible presumptive judgment they’d made.
Perhaps what is even worse is when we view ourselves in such a negative way that we say: “Who am I to tell anyone what to do or not do, when I know that often I do things far worse?” The reality is that every one of us, simply because of our baptism, has been called to be a prophet. There are some things over which we cannot compromise. There are times when silence is the best response we can muster; when words would not improve the silence. But there are many times when we cannot keep silent. We cannot be dissuaded by our own shortcomings. God will stand by us and give us what we need when we need it. Relax, draw a deep breath, and remind yourself: “I don’t have to act today with yesterday’s grace.” But we do need to remember if we fail to share the prophetic message of the Gospel, other louder voices will be happy to impose their godless vision on all of us. It never has been easy to be a prophet and it never will be. The message of the Gospel is challenging and sometimes controversial, but it’s a message that people (we) need to hear whether or not we want to hear it. And God promises a prophet’s reward for fidelity to our mission. On the other hand, if we prefer not to rock the boat, as Aristotle said “To avoid criticism…say nothing, do nothing, and be nothing.”
This story of one day in the life of Jesus we learn that his trip to Nazareth was not a private family visit. He came for public ministry. Usually when the people heard Jesus speak, they were amazed. But, a lot of what he said confused his enemies. They couldn’t explain Him, so they rejected His message. They thought they knew everything about Him. They knew Him as a “just” common craftsman, just another boy from Nazareth. They voiced their thoughts: “You are no better than we are! Why should we listen to you?”
These people did what most people do when they cannot understand someone. They resorted to rejection, ridicule and the last refuge of a small mind: a tie-breaking put down! They did what was never done in that society! They insulted his mother calling him “Son of Mary.” A male was always referred to as the son of his father, even if his father was dead. To call a boy the son of his mother was to imply that His mother had been a harlot. Jesus was amazed that these people lacked faith. They had heard the truth, seen the truth and they still turned a deaf ear and a blind eye. As a result, He left Nazareth, and there is no record that He ever returned there.
We may sum up this lesson in the words of William Barclay: “There can be no preaching in the wrong atmosphere. The listeners are responsible for at least half of every sermon. In an atmosphere of expectancy, the least effort will catch fire. In an atmosphere of coldness or indifference, the most spirit-filled of sermons will fall flat.”
~Reflection by Sister Roberta Bailey, OSB
Please pray for those in the path of the hurricane.
Sister Roberta Bailey, OSB
First Reading Ezekiel 2:2-5 Second Reading 2 Corinthians 12:7-10
Gospel Mark 6:1-6Continue Reading
Have a great celebration and be sure to
pray for our country.Continue Reading
A Prayer for Fathers