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Sacerdotes | sección
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Autor: Fr. Lawrence Merta, LC | Fuente: Sacerdos Institute
14th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle C
July 8, 2007. Homily. Readings: Is 66:10-14c; Gal 6:14-18; Lk 10:1-12, 17-20.
Readings: Is 66:10-14c; Gal 6:14-18; Lk 10:1-12, 17-20
Author: Father Lawrence Merta, LC

The themes of exile, suffering, and God´s proximity to those who suffer are the main topics of today´s reading. The first reading gives us a maternal portrayal of the city of Jerusalem in the days after the Babylonian exile, as inhabitants of the city rejoice in the return to their homeland. In that experience, the author conveys God´s closeness to his people as a mother to her infant. St. Paul perceives God´s closeness in the cross he bears for the salvation of souls. His greatest satisfaction lies in bearing it patiently as it becomes the proof of his own configuration with Christ, even to the point of bearing the marks of his Savior in his own flesh. In the Gospel, the commissioning of the seventy-two magnifies the radius of Christ´s apostolic outreach. The prosperity of this mission trip hinges on the townspeople´s response to welcome the disciples´ preaching as preparation to receive Christ in the flesh.

Freedom to worship. The prophets kept the consolations of God alive in the hearts of the Jews who were exiled to Babylonia. The prophet´s imagery meant to instill confidence in God Yahweh, who has not abandoned them in their hopes to return to the center of Judaism and temple worship. The great longing within the religious man´s heart is to be free to worship his God. When rereading the passage from the perspective of the New Testament, the perception of exile, and the longing for return to Jerusalem, speak of the Christian´s need to conserve and protect an upright conscience afforded by gifts of the Holy Spirit. Christian worship of God can, in fact, take place anywhere, at any time, and the ´prosperous river´ of that relationship amounts to God´s indwelling in the human heart through the law of grace.

The glory of the cross. The apostle unmasks his opponents desire to advocate justification before God on arguments of the flesh (practice of circumcision). For rhetorical effect, he sets in opposition their "glory" in the flesh with his glory in the cross. St. Paul boasts about his suffering as the mark of his identity as an apostle. He sees his cross as true intimacy with God. To be crucified to the world is to live in a world that does not understand the liberating works of grace within the human heart. St. Paul proclaims that his people´s former ways are insufficient to establish peace with God. The world has been crucified to the apostle, for his message stirs consciences of the bad and troubled to consider the fullness of truth in Christ Jesus. At the same time Paul is crucified to the world because he is obliged to preach this message in virtue of his apostleship. Charles William Everest captures this challenge in his Take up Your Cross:

Take up your cross, then, in his strength,
And calmly ev´ry danger brave:
It leads you to a better home
And lead to vict´ry o´er the grave.

Take up your cross, and follow Christ,
Nor think till death to lay it down;
For only those who bear the cross
May hope to wear the glorious crown.

The harvest is abundant, but the laborers are few. Christ will not do the work alone. He summons disciples in every age who will perpetuate his words and sacraments in a personal way. Catholicism needs the Alter Christus to express the person of the Son in word and sacrament inasmuch as priests personalize Christ´s invitation for grace and friendship to the entire world. The Lord also made the call of future ministers to the Church depend on the Church´s prayer for laborers. In that regard, our parishioners are to pray for their ministers—that their preaching may not grow lifeless and dull, that their testimony via word and action is inspiring and holy.

Christ´s disciples go out as "lambs" in their innocence and simplicity. The demands of the discipleship are readily apparent. The disciples travel frugally with no extra provisions to distract them along the way; they place their confidence in Providence. They greet no one along the way so as not to lose a second in the fulfillment of their mission in the assigned villages and towns; time, for them, is to build the Kingdom of Christ. It is hard to imagine the time frame of this mission. The disciples share their stories of conversion and cures. They are caught up in the Lord´s work and forget themselves and their fatigue. The events of that mission seem to take place in the blink of an eye. Christ´s joy is also present in their joy as he sees his disciples continue and multiply in a real way: the very work that Christ himself came to do.

The cross is not meant to be a thing to be systematically shunned. It is not a sign of weakness or defeat. The presence of our different crosses permit us to observe how well we live out humility - a virtue necessary for union with God. Following the example of Christ, we as followers are to accept the misunderstandings, irony, and satire from those who see Catholic belief from one side, and respond patiently with a thoughtful and formative response. In that way does our cross conquer what it is meant to conquer: sin. Christ is purifying us all who carry the cross he gives us out of love for him. We should wear its image valiantly from our neck and apparel. We display what we believe because, as it turns out, we are asked more frequently today what it means to believe in the Crucified One.

Christ continues calling larger tiers of followers beyond the Twelve and seventy-two. The call of Christ is more than likely present as a seed in the heart of more than one young parishioner. Pastors and lay people who know young people expressing a desire to follow Christ more closely should thoughtfully challenge them to do something with their call. Whether it be leading a Catholic study circle or parochial ministry, a good way to maintain that interest is to put the person to work in the mission field.

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El lugar de encuentro de los católicos en la red