July 12, 2015 - Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Gospel - Mark 6: 7 - 13
This weekend we continue with the Gospel Readings from the Gospel of Mark. The New American Bible divides the Gospel of Mark into four divisions. The Ordinary Time Gospel readings from Mark that began on June 14, and we will hear until Labor Day Weekend are in the second division called, The Mystery of Jesus. This portion of the Gospel takes place in Galilee where Jesus attracted crowds to hear his teachings and to experience his healing presence. The one negative experience was when Jesus returned to his home town of Nazareth and faced their lack of faith. It is following this event that Jesus sent out the twelve apostles two by two with the authority to cast out evil spirits and to preach repentance. He is very particular in how they should go out, "take nothing for the journey but a walking stick - no food, no sack, no money in their belts." Mk 6:8
One of the themes throughout the Gospels is surrendering all to God. Your heart, will and mind must be given over to the Lord if you truly wish to be his disciple. Jesus models this for us when he speaks about not having a divided heart, you must leave behind father, mother, sister and brother to follow him, and you cannot serve two masters. He tells us that he is not doing his will, but the will of him who sent him, and he teaches us to pray in the Lord's Prayer, "thy will be done." The passage for this weekend is that one must leave your possessions behind. In a sense he is saying not to think about possessions, think about serving the Lord. This reflects the first of the great commandments that Jesus gives us, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and all your mind." Mt. 22: 36 - 40. Jesus is not seeking half-hearted followers, but only those who have the desire to wholeheartedly embrace him.
In sending out the disciples, he is not only giving them the mission of preaching repentance and casting out demons, he is also giving them a very basic lesson on the cost of discipleship. To be a Disciple of Jesus costs all that we have. There is not room for the dollar store disciple, or a disciple with coupons that will allow him to save something. To be a disciple of Jesus one must be willing to surrender all to the Lord. This giving up of our heart, our will and our mind is to be done freely, for by giving us the gift of free will, God cannot force us to surrender. He instructs, encourages and invites, but there is always the freedom to hold back.
For most of us the thought of surrendering our possessions is one we would rather avoid. This Gospel might be an opportunity for us to take a good look at what we have and do a mid-Summer cleaning of our homes, our closets and cabinets. This would be a good start towards surrendering, for surrendering is far more than just getting rid of our old, used and no longer needed items. Surrendering is an attitude of the heart that would have us see Christ as the most important possession we have, and to strive towards his being the only worthwhile possession. Beginning this process of changing our hearts and letting go is difficult, but once we begin we realize that the less we carry on this journey, the easier the journey becomes. Christ becomes more and more the center of our lives and all else becomes just things on the periphery.
Fr. Killian Loch, O.S.B.