|Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin?
Yet not one of them falls to the ground
without your Father's knowledge....
So do not be afraid;
you are worth more than many sparrows.
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Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time
On the Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time we read that Jesus was not able to work miracles in his home town. In their eyes, he was just the person they'd seen grow up. This distressed him and he couldn't work many miracles at home.
Wednesday is the Memorial of Saint Benedict. In the US, Saturday is the Memorial of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha.
The first readings this week are from the Book of the Prophet Hosea. Hosea was a prophet to the northern kingdom. He was powerful and tender in expressing God's relationship to Israel in terms he knew. His wife was unfaithful to him in the way Israel was unfaithful to God - yet he still loved his wife as God was still faithful to Israel. On Saturday, we begin reading from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, beginning with the call of Isaiah.
This week Matthew's Gospel shows us how Jesus calls his Apostles and how he sent them out on mission. We begin with Matthew's version of Jesus healing an official's daughter, and along the way he heals the woman suffering hemorrhages. Jesus heals a mute man, but the Pharisees accuse him of using evil powers to do this. Jesus continues to heal. He tells his disciples to pray for even more disciples. Jesus selects twelve special disciples, his Apostles (meaning “those who are sent”), and gives them the power to heal and to proclaim, “The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.” They are sent to “Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, drive out demons.” And they are not to charge for their ministry. They are to be discerning: “Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves.” He tells them that they will be persecuted, “but whoever endures to the end will be saved.” Jesus tells them to not be afraid for God will protect them.
On the Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time we read Mark's version of the call of the Twelve - sending them out in teams of two with his healing power and his authority over unclean spirits. He told them “to take nothing for the journey.” God would take care of them.
Daily Prayer This Week
Last week we reflected about images of Jesus beginning his ministry and letting ourselves grow in admiration and attraction to him. This week we take the next step by watching him call and send his Apostles. As we go through each day this week, in the background of our consciousness, we can make an ongoing reflection on our call and mission.
For a few days, we can pray each morning, for just 30 seconds or so -- when we first stand up beside our bed or when we are in the shower or while dressing -- “Dear Jesus, I sometimes forget that I am called by you to be your disciple. I forget that you call me each day to live the mission you give me. Help me be more aware of your call and more faithful in living it today.”
For a few days, we might begin the day talking to Jesus, with our own words: “Lord, I have some challenges to face today. Help me enter those challenges with faith and trust in you. Calm my fears and heal my resistance to placing my trust in you. Then, let me bring your healing to the conflicts and wounds I encounter today.”
And, for a few days, I can be more focused on what Jesus said about sending us like sheep among wolves. “Lord, there are so many ways that I have become a part of the values of the world around me. Give me the freedom to hear your call today and to live it counter culturally. With your grace, I resolve to live more simply and to try to hear the cry of the poor. With your grace, I desire to be freed from the attachments that blind me, so that I might be guided by your Spirit in dismantling unjust social structures. Today, Jesus, I place my trust in you.”
In these simple prayers we find ourselves having a new focus each day. While continuing to be busy and doing what we are committed to doing, our days are transformed. In brief conversations with Jesus, our hearts and desires become more closely aligned with his. Practicing this kind of prayer is very fulfilling and soon becomes a habit. We become more reflective as we grow in intimacy with our Lord, in the midst of our daily lives.
As we review our day each evening before going to bed, we recognize God's presence with us that day. Expressing our gratitude each night claims the graces we have received and helps us trust God's presence in our lives more and more.
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