"Breaking Open the Word" :
James Cavanagh is the director of Evangelization and Catechesis for Metro-Area Parishes of the Denver Archdiocese. His weekly column, "Breaking Open the Word," is syndicated by the Denver Catholic Register, official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Denver. Click here to visit the Office of Evangelization & Catechesis for the Archdiocese of Denver.
July 15: 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time
• Amos 7:12-15
Overview: This week’s readings call to mind the mission of the Church. Like Amos and the other prophets of the Old Testament, the Church and her teachings haven’t always been well received. In the first reading we see how Amos was driven out of the temple in Bethel by Amaziah, a priest and member of the ruling class. Amaziah believed that the temple belonged to the king and that the purpose of religion was to reinforce his power. Amos however, a common man, believed that Israel belonged to God and that she was called to serve him and be a light to the nations. All this took place in the eighth-century B.C., during a time of relative peace and prosperity. Things seemed to be going well, but injustice, immorality and false worship permeated society. Amos warned Israel’s leaders that ruin would befall them if they didn’t change. He had the audacity to challenge the king and his minions, and was banished as a result.
In the second reading Paul talks about the mission of God’s elect “chosen before the foundation of the world to be holy and without blemish before him.” Baptized into Christ and “sealed with the promised Holy Spirit” the elect “exist for the praise of his glory” and to sanctify the world by their lives.
In this week’s Gospel we hear how Jesus commissioned the Twelve and sent them out in pairs to heal the sick, expel demons and preach the Gospel. These signs were evidence that God’s kingdom was at hand, present in Christ working through his disciples. Jesus warns them, however, that sometimes they and their message would not be accepted.
Key verse: “In him we were also chosen . . . so that we might exist for the praise of his glory.” (Eph. 1:11-12)
Catechism of the Catholic Church: “‘The Church on earth is by her nature missionary since, according to the plan of the Father; she has as her origin the mission of the Son and the Holy Spirit.’ The ultimate purpose of mission is none other than to make men share in the communion between the Father and the Son in their Spirit of love” (No. 850).
Pope Benedict XVI: “The Church always evangelizes and has never interrupted the path of evangelization. … Everyone needs the Gospel; the Gospel is destined to all and not only to a specific circle and this is why we are obliged to look for new ways of bringing the Gospel to all” (Address to Catechists, Dec. 12, 2000).
Application: Devotion to the false gods of sex, money, power and fame threaten our society as surely as idolatry and corruption threatened ancient Israel. The Gospel of Jesus Christ proclaimed by the Apostles is still a message that needs to be shared, even though some people don’t want to hear it. We have been commissioned by virtue of our baptism and confirmation and sent to share the apostolic faith, a message of hope and charity, and to sanctify the temporal order by our actions.
James Cavanagh is director of Evangelization and Catechesis for Metro-area Parishes of the Denver Archdiocese. Cavanagh’s column is distributed by the Denver Catholic Register.
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