Reflections on the Readings
Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - July 15, 2012 - Year B
A New Evangelization
(Mark 6:12 -13)
So they went out and preached that men should repent. And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many that were sick and healed them.
Conversion lasts a lifetime. It's a process. Our life in Christ requires daily attention. As Paul reminds the Church at Philippi, "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure." As we cooperate with the grace given to us in Baptism we grow in Christ. We become more like him as we embrace a radical reorientation of our whole life by loving and serving Christ with our whole heart. (CCC 1431)
The new evangelization espoused by many Popes but especially articulated by Blessed John Paul II begins with you and with me. It is accepting for ourselves the love of God our baptism gives us. The frailty and weakness of human nature is ever with us. The new birth of baptism does not remove the reality of what tradition calls concupiscence - an inclination to sin. Jesus sent his disciples to call all people to embrace the strength and hope and change of heart repentance gives. Conversion, therefore, gives us a new power to overcome sin and to love God and our neighbor as our selves.(CCC 1426)
Jesus sent his disciples on a mission to preach a new and profound way to know God. Without pretense or imposition the disciples lived simple lives. They relied on the generosity of those who accepted what they had to say. With the example of a simple lifestyle and the persuasion of their message they gave a powerful witness to the truth and love of Jesus. Going out two by two they dispersed into the community inviting everyone to a change of heart. They explained an interior conversion of heart and invited the people to turn away from sin and resolve to change their life, with hope in God's mercy and trust in the help of his grace. (CCC 1431)
Everyone may not be receptive. In the first reading, Amos, is rejected in the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Amaziah tells him to go to Judah with all of his prophesying. Amos' call to repent and to return to God with fidelity of heart fell on deaf ears. Even the disciples are warned that some may not embrace what is told them. Jesus instructed them to shake the dust from their sandals on their way as a testimony against those who reject the message - a gesture that others are waiting to hear the good news and will be receptive.
However, in the second reading, we see how blessed we are in God's preferential love for us. So many do not know the depth and measure of God's love. Many in the Church are not aware of the magnitude of mercy they received in their baptism. Paul calls baptism a seal of the Holy Spirit - the first installment of our inheritance toward redemption as God's possession, to the praise of his glory.
Paul describes this inheritance as something God chooses to give us. In our baptism God has lavished upon us the riches of his grace. In the new evangelization we are called to discover for ourselves the treasures of our salvation. Do you know the power of Christ's blood that gives to you and to me the forgiveness of sins? Do you know that long before we were a baby in the womb God predestined you for adoption to himself and to his family, the Church? Do you know that every day is a day to walk in the favor of God's will for us? And further, did you know that we were chosen on purpose to know the gift of God's love in Christ and to hear the wonderful truth of the gospel of our salvation?
This is the dynamic reality of life in Christ. It is more than an occasional tip of the hat to God on Easter and Christmas. Life in Christ is an encounter of a new power that makes all things new - especially ourselves. Jesus sent his disciples in a new humility and power that brought hope and healing of body and soul. Hearts were changed and the power and grip of sin was broken. Devils were cast out and sick people were healed. The power of the new evangelization is a new awareness of the power and healing and comfort of the good news that God loves us. He is not far from anyone of us. He is as close as the baptism that gave us his life and his love.
Our conversion of heart and mind is something we must embrace for ourselves. It is that personal encounter with Christ we want our children and their children to embrace. We must begin now and where we are to ask ourselves and our families if they are living up to their baptism. For ourselves we must consciously and on purpose invite the God of our baptism to grow in us his love and mercy. For our salvation is by grace. Let us by faith embrace this gracious gift of God and walk in the power of Christ. And he who makes all things new will give us a new understanding of what it means to be a new creation in Christ Jesus. For if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold the new has come. (2 Cor. 5:17 )
Dennis Hankins is a parishioner at Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral, of the Diocese of Knoxville, TN. Prior to his uniting with the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil 2006, Dennis served as a priest in the Charismatic Episcopal Church. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org His website is: www.dennishankins.com