Tag Archives: 12 Sunday in Ordinary time

25 June 2017: Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary time

Reading 1 Response Reading 2 Gospel
Jer 20:10-13 Ps 69:8-10, 14, 17, 33-35 Rom 5:12-15 Mt 10:26-33

Discipleship: a fearless life

Green_banner_sm During Ordinary time the Lectionary invites RCIA participants and the believing community to hear and to reflect on Jesus’ teachings from his everyday ministry. This week’s readings invite us to reflect on discipleship’s risks and rewards.

In the first reading Jeremiah laments the fate of all prophets: rejection. The Temple guard put Jeremiah in stocks to keep him from prophesying about the coming Babylonian siege. Jeremiah suffers a crisis of faith (“You seduced me, Lord…” v7) because the people reject him and his prophesy. The Lectionary editors chose this reading because it parallels Jesus’ warnings to disciples in today’s gospel.

In the second reading to the ekklesia at Rome, Paul reflects on Adam’s sin (Gn 3:1-13) in the context of the redemptive mystery of Christ. Paul compares Christ to Adam, not to explain human origins, but to introduce the mystery of human sinfulness. Paul sees sin as a power over someone. This power causes humans to revolt against God, and exalt in their own desires and interests. Sin leads to spiritual death: total aloneness and self-imposed alienation from God. God’s response to human failure is not punishment, but superabundant grace and God’s redemptive gift (Jesus). Paul contrasts Adam’s disobedience with Christ’s complete obedience; Jesus’ life of obedience to the Father, including his “obedience unto death,” is his redemptive act.

In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus continues to prepare the disciples for their mission to the world. In today’s reading, Jesus gives his disciples three instructions:

  • Proclaim without fear. Disciples should not fear those who oppose them or want to dispute or to condemn Jesus’ good news. Disciples should proclaim Jesus’ message openly, in the light and from the housetops.
  • Expect rejection. Like Jesus, Jeremiah, and all the prophets, disciples should be prepared to be rejected, opposed, persecuted, and even martyred for following the gospel’s words and actions.
  • Remain faithful. Jesus assures the disciples that God knows them personally and values their works. Jesus is joined to (literally “is of one mind with”) every disciple who faithfully witnesses to his message, and Jesus acknowledges those disciples before his heavenly Father.

Jesus’ instructions are as valid to his twenty-first century disciples (us) as they were to his first-century disciples. Proclaiming God’s words and imitating Jesus’ actions will always result in rejection, opposition, and persecution by those who would rather keep their words and actions hidden and secret. However, Jesus assures his disciples that the Father cares for them, and that he himself continues to stand with them during their trials. As a result, disciples should fear no one. Today’s readings ask: Is our discipleship fearless, or have we dialed back the gospel’s words and actions to accommodate our comfortable culture? Will Jesus recognize his message reflected in what we say and do, or will he turn to the Father and shake his head?

—Terence Sherlock


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19 June 2016: Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary time

Reading 1 Response Reading 2 Gospel
Zec 12:10-11; 13:1 Ps 63:2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9 Gal 3:26-29 Lk 9:18-24


The who and the how

Green_banner_sm During Ordinary time the Lectionary invites RCIA participants and the believing community to hear and to reflect on Jesus’ stories and teachings from his everyday ministry. This week’s readings ask us to reflect on identity and mission.

The first reading is from Zechariah, a composite work by two prophets: Zechariah, written between 520 and 518BC, and Second Zechariah, written about a century later. The Lectionary editors chose the Second Zechariah passage because of its messianic themes. Christian scripture writers read “they shall look on him whom they have pierced” as reference to Jesus’ death (Jn 19:37).

The second reading continues Paul’s letter to the Galatia ekklesia. Today’s passage comes immediately after last week’s discussion about justification. Paul presents baptism as the “sacrament of justification”–the visible sign that we have been made “right with God.” The phrase “to put on Christ” was likely part of a baptismal formula. When Paul says that we are “clothed with Christ,” he uses the word ἐνδύω (en-DOO-oh), which means “to sink into a garment.” The early church practiced baptism by total immersion: a bishop sank each catechumen under water; on rising, a sponsor wrapped the catechumen with a white garment signifying new life in Christ. The act of “putting on Christ” in the white baptismal garment expresses racial, social, and sexual equality (Col 3:11).

In the gospel we hear Luke’s version of Peter’s confession of faith and discipleship. Peter’s personal encounter with Jesus–not dogma or theology–leads him to faith and to discipleship. Peter, the rest of the Twelve, and all of us face two questions:

  • Who is Jesus? The crowds offers three possibilities about Jesus’ identity–John the Baptizer, Elijah, or an ancient prophet. Jesus asks his disciples “Whom do you declare me to be?” Peter answers, “the Christ (messiah) of God.” The crowds are looking for a political or military messiah-leader; Jesus’ words and signs reveal he is a servant-messiah.
  • How do we follow? Jesus sums up how to follow him: deny yourself so you can serve others. Luke’s reference to taking up one’s cross echoes and compliments Jesus’ passion prediction, and reminds those who wish to follow Jesus that their mission, like his, includes suffering and death. Luke adds the phrase “every day” to emphasize that discipleship requires a daily choice to follow Jesus.

These two questions confront RCIA participants and the entire believing community every day. If we believe that Jesus is “the Christ of God,” we must also accept that he came to serve, to suffer, and to give his life. If we choose to follow Jesus, we “put on Christ”–take on Jesus’ identity and person–not simply through the sign of baptism but also through a life-mission of service to others, whatever the personal cost. Is this our discipleship? Every day?

—Terence Sherlock

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21 June 2015: Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary time

Reading 1 Response Reading 2 Gospel
Job 38: 1, 8-11 Ps 107: 23-24, 25-26, 28-29, 30-31 2 Cor 5: 14-17 Mk 4: 35-41


God’s dynamite

In Ordinary time, the Lectionary presents RCIA participants and all believing community members with stories and teachings from Jesus’ everyday ministry. This week Jesus shows us through his “acts of power” that he is God.

Today’s first reading is from the book of Job, a story in prose and poetry about the meaning of human suffering. In this passage, God speaks to Job “out of the storm” (literally “whirlwind”), asking if Job was present when God created the sea (“when it burst forth”) and set its limits (“here shall your proud waves be stilled”). The most powerful force that the land-based Hebrews knew, the stormy Mediterranean, was created and controlled by God. The Divine One’s power and authority, beyond their understanding, is over everything and everyone.

Mark’s gospel tells the story of Jesus overcoming the storm on the Sea of Galilee. Although we call this a miracle story, emphasizing its amazing quality, the evangelists called these stories dynameis or “acts of power,” emphasizing Jesus’ authority or power over nature and sickness. (Dynameis is the root of our word dynamite.) Mark’s story includes the same elements as the first reading–whirlwind, storm, waves, sea–in relation to Jesus. Mark’s Jesus has already demonstrated his “authority” or “power” many times (“Don’t you have faith yet?”), but his disciples still don’t get it (“Who is this one that even the wind and water obey him?”). As we saw in the first reading, only the Divine One could have such power over nature.

In the second reading, Paul explains why he preaches: Once he understood the meaning of Christ’s death (“one died for all”), Christ’s love compelled Paul to live for others. Paul tells us that before we come to faith, we know Christ only humanly (“according to the flesh.”) Now we know and understand Christ though faith. Through faith, we are “in Christ” and are a part of Christ’s “new creation” (God’s kingdom). We must see and recognize everyone (“whoever is in Christ”) as part of this new creation.

Like the disciples in the boat, RCIA candidates and catechumens (and we Catholics, too) sometimes get distracted by the miracle and miss the dynamite. We worry about the storm–“I’m afraid,” “I don’t know what to do,” “Nobody cares about me!”–and forget that God is in the boat with us. God’s dynamite is Jesus’ transforming death and resurrection, the love that compels us to live for others. Are we living this faith, or are we still asking “Who is this one?”

—Terence Sherlock

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