Our Personal Calling and Commissioning by Jesus, 14th Wednesday (I), July 12, 2017

Fr. Roger J. Landry
Visitation Convent of the Sisters of Life, Manhattan
Fourteenth Wednesday of Ordinary Time, Year I
Memorial of SS. Louis and Zelie Martin
July 12, 2017
Gen 41:55-57.42:5-7.17-24, Ps 33, Mt 10:1-7

 

To listen to an audio recording of today’s homily, please click below: 

 

The following points were attempted in the homily: 

  • Yesterday, Jesus had the apostles pray to the Harvest Master, his Father, to send laborers for his harvest. Today, after they prayed and after Jesus prayed all night, God the Father responded by calling the very ones Jesus asked to pray, and he sent them out to collect the harvest that is ever white and ripe. It points to the central truth that the Lord wants all of us to pray and the Lord wants all of us to recognize that the Father is calling us, in different ways, to be those very laborers strengthened by that prayer, the divine calling, and the divine commissioning.
  • We see various elements of that harvesting that Jesus sends us out to accomplish.
  • The first is to proclaim that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. The Kingdom is at hand because the King is present. The Kingdom of God is, in short, God. It’s where he reigns. To proclaim the Kingdom at hand is to say, “God is here” and “We need to let him reign in our lives.” Jesus sent out the 12 and he sends out us to proclaim, not merely with our words but with the way we live, that we’re not alone, that God is alive, that is he is with us, and that letting him reign in our lives has made all the difference in saving us and joyfully transforming us.
  • As part of the proclamation that God is among us, Jesus sends the 12 and us out with his authority to expel demons and heal every disease and illness. We need to be signs of that exorcism, no longer letting the prince of this world, the father of lies, have any dominion over us and bring people to Jesus to experience that same liberation. Likewise we need to be the nurses of the Divine Physician and, as Pope Francis never ceases of saying, healing the wounds of those today. The Church is a field hospital in battle, it’s a trauma unit, and so many are wounded physically, emotionally, relationally, spiritually. We’re sent out as Good Samaritans to try to care for people in their illnesses and to let Jesus and his healing into their lives, remembering that Jesus never healed just for healing sake, but to bring people to the deepest type of healing of all, spiritual healing by faith. And we’re sent out first not to the furthest ends of the world to strangers, but to the “lost sheep” of the “house of Israel.” The “house of Israel” were those that the apostles might have taken for granted, because they should have known about the kingdom but they were lost even when it was among them at hand. Similarly, we’re sent out first to those who are lost among us — to those we know are lost and even to those who we would presume would not be lost but maybe are going through a crisis of faith, even if priests, religious, or lifelong fervent Catholics. Everyone at some point needs a reminder of the Lord’s presence, of his dominion over the evil one, of his healing power.
  • As we go out to heal these wounds, it’s key for us to grasp that one of the most important ways we proclaim the message of the kingdom is through our own wounds that have been healed by Jesus. Jesus doesn’t always take our wounds away but he transforms them, just like his wounds in his Risen Body no longer bled. Just like he sent out forgiven sinners to proclaim that forgiveness of sins is possible, so he sends out the healed wounded in order to proclaim that healing of wounds is possible. He has allowed us to be wounded in the past so that he could heal us and so that we could be effective signs to those we meet that they too can receive that same gift. That’s the lesson we learn in the first reading from the story of Joseph the Patriarch. God allowed him to be wounded through his brothers’ envy precisely so that through his wounds he could be a source of divine healing through his brothers. In this he was a Christ-like figure, who did precisely the same thing, seeking to heal through his wounds the very people who were inflicting those wounds. Jesus wants us to be similar Christ-like figures. One of the greatest ways we proclaim the reality of the kingdom is not when everything is going well, but when we’re suffering and then we become credible witnesses that if God is with us in our wounds doing his healing work by redeeming our souls and reordering our lives through those wounds, then he can do the same with others.
  • Today the Church celebrates the feast of Saints Louis and Zelie Martin, the parents of St. Therese of the Child Jesus. Just like the Lord Jesus called the apostles by name to be with him and to send them out, so he called them, and so he calls all sacramentally married couples by name to this same holy discipleship and ardent apostolate. Louis thought at first he had the vocation to be a brother in the Great St. Bernard Hospital Congregation and Zelie a Visitation nun, but despite their willingness, they both realized that the Lord had other plans. One day, on the bridge of St. Leonard in Alencon, they passed each other and Zelie heard a whisper within, “This is he whom I have prepared for you.” They discovered that God was calling them to marriage with each other. They married open to the will of God — 159 years ago tomorrow, in 1858, which is why their feast day is today (with St. Henry tomorrow) — intent upon modeling their marriage on the Holy Family to their mutual sanctification, seeking God’s will above all. They were intent upon a “Josephite marriage” of perpetual mutual continence, but ten months into their marriage, at the advice of a priest friend, they changed their minds and desired as many children as God would provide. He gave them nine, five girls of whom would survive childhood, all five of which would eventually become religious sisters. They went to daily Mass, frequent Confession, gave alms discreetly, provided assistance to the sick and dying, cared for the indigent by getting them to hospitals, and took quite seriously their responsibility for announcing the kingdom to others: they enrolled their children in the Work of Childhood Missions, making large annual donations to the Propagation of the Faith, and donating for the construction of a chapel and a seminary in Canada. Little did they know that their youngest daughter would become a patroness of the Missions! The Lord similarly brought good out of their sufferings: Zelie’s breast cancer and Louis’ many health problems including dementia. Through their wounds, even through their deaths, they continued like Joseph to share the faith and enfleshed today’s Gospel.
  • Today we come to the same Christ who made them saints, to the King himself, to the font of exorcism and the source of healing, the One whom St. Ignatius of Antioch called the “medicine of immortality.” The Harvest Master has drawn us here in response to our own prayers and those of others to strengthen us for the work of harvesting today, reminding us by Christ’s real presence that the King of the Kingdom of Heaven is with us, healing us, stomping out the devil in us, and sending us to all the lost, mangled and abandoned sheep of our own house, of our common home, with the same medicine, God himself. And we pray that we will do so imitating the fidelity and with the intercession of Saints Louis, Zelie and Therese Martin!

 

These were the readings for today’s Mass: 

Reading 1 Gn 41:55-57; 42:5-7a, 17-24a

When hunger came to be felt throughout the land of Egypt
and the people cried to Pharaoh for bread,
Pharaoh directed all the Egyptians to go to Joseph
and do whatever he told them.
When the famine had spread throughout the land,
Joseph opened all the cities that had grain
and rationed it to the Egyptians,
since the famine had gripped the land of Egypt.
In fact, all the world came to Joseph to obtain rations of grain,
for famine had gripped the whole world.
The sons of Israel were among those
who came to procure rations.It was Joseph, as governor of the country,
who dispensed the rations to all the people.
When Joseph’s brothers came and knelt down before him
with their faces to the ground,
he recognized them as soon as he saw them.
But Joseph concealed his own identity from them
and spoke sternly to them.
With that, he locked them up in the guardhouse for three days.
On the third day Joseph said to his brothers:
“Do this, and you shall live; for I am a God-fearing man.
If you have been honest,
only one of your brothers need be confined in this prison,
while the rest of you may go
and take home provisions for your starving families.
But you must come back to me with your youngest brother.
Your words will thus be verified, and you will not die.”
To this they agreed.
To one another, however, they said:
“Alas, we are being punished because of our brother.
We saw the anguish of his heart when he pleaded with us,
yet we paid no heed;
that is why this anguish has now come upon us.”
Reuben broke in,
“Did I not tell you not to do wrong to the boy?
But you would not listen!
Now comes the reckoning for his blood.”
The brothers did not know, of course,
that Joseph understood what they said,
since he spoke with them through an interpreter.
But turning away from them, he wept.

Responsorial Psalm PS 33:2-3, 10-11, 18-19

R. (22) Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.
Give thanks to the LORD on the harp;
with the ten-stringed lyre chant his praises.
Sing to him a new song;
pluck the strings skillfully, with shouts of gladness.
R. Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.
The LORD brings to nought the plans of nations;
he foils the designs of peoples.
But the plan of the LORD stands forever;
the design of his heart, through all generations.
R. Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.
But see, the eyes of the LORD are upon those who fear him,
upon those who hope for his kindness,
To deliver them from death
and preserve them in spite of famine.
R. Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you.

Alleluia Mk 1:15

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Kingdom of God is at hand:
repent and believe in the Gospel.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mt 10:1-7

Jesus summoned his Twelve disciples
and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out
and to cure every disease and every illness.
The names of the Twelve Apostles are these:
first, Simon called Peter, and his brother Andrew;
James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John;
Philip and Bartholomew,
Thomas and Matthew the tax collector;
James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddeus;
Simon the Cananean, and Judas Iscariot
who betrayed Jesus.
Jesus sent out these Twelve after instructing them thus,
“Do not go into pagan territory or enter a Samaritan town.
Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.’”