Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Simplicity of Grace - Sunday, July 12, 2009

Reflections on the Readings
Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - July 12, 2009, Year B
The Sixth Sunday after Pentecost
By Dennis Hankins

And he called to him the twelve, and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits.

We contemplate today the mission of the twelve.  We are not told their names in this reading.  They are 'the twelve.'  Of course we know who they are, but there is much of the simplicity of the Twelve we can learn from today.  

These men possess within their hearts the simple and profoundly powerful message of grace.  Preaching that men should repent, they cast out demons, and anointed with oil many that were sick and healed them.  There you have it, preaching, exorcisms, and the miraculous.  

The simplicity of their travel gear is in contrast to the magnitude of the blessing they were.  They took no bread, no baggage, no money in their belts, one tunic and one pair of sandals. Like their Master, they had no where to lay their head, so they relied upon the kindness and generosity of those who received them.  

Much of this sounds unfamiliar and strange to our modern ears.  On any given religious TV channel there is any number of preachers and teachers of the gospel, finely coiffed, groomed, and dressed in the latest and best clothing exhorting the viewer to send them more money.  I suppose that is why today's Gospel is somewhat foreign to us.

If the appearance of the 'Twelve' is startling, their message and ministry is equally so.  Most of today's TV ministries do little in calling men to repentance.  Rather than appealing to the hearts of their listeners to avail themselves of the riches of God's grace, there is the endless appeal for more and more of your money.

My papa Seibert wore glasses.  They were the big thick kind.  Like the end of a Coke bottle.  Papa was very genuine and sincere in his love for Jesus.  He often asked for prayer for his eyesight.  Papa sent his life savings to a certain A. A. Allen, a healing evangelist of some repute, in hope that his eyes would be healed.  I have the same gnawing in the pit of my stomach in remembering this as you do in reading about it.  

Today is the dedication of the new St. John Neumann Church.  As magnificent of a new Church construction as you would want to see.  But as this dedication takes place, may I suggest we rededicate ourselves to the simple story of Salvation described in the myriad windows, the dome, the statues and the words etched in stone.  It is the story of Jesus.  All of it is about Jesus.  Jesus and his love for you and me and our neighbors.  And as we eat and drink together at the Table of the Lord, may we go back out into the world, the place of our mission with a renewed wonder for the simplicity of the message and the wonder of the mystery of our faith.  

Like the Twelve, may the wonder and awe of the riches of his grace be what we talk about.  

Let us pray: Heavenly Father, you have blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing and sealed us with the promised Holy Spirit.  Honor and blessing and glory be to thee now and forever and ever.  Amen.

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