June 14, 2020 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today’s Readings: Ex 19:2–6 | Rom 5:6-11 | Mt 9:36-10:8

Therefore, if you hearken to my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my special possession, … You shall be to me a kingdom of priests, a holy nation.

God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.

As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons. Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.

I love to reflect upon Jesus, choosing his twelve apostles. It reminds me of so much of what attracts me to Jesus and it helps renew me in the call of my baptism.

It is comforting to recall why he invited disciples to join him in his ministry. As he looked out over the crowds, his heart was deeply moved toward them. They were “troubled” and “abandoned.” Jesus must have recalled how frustrated God was that the shepherds of Israel were not feeding and caring for the people, and how God said, “I will shepherd them myself!” Jesus feels compassion for them, for they are like “sheep without a shepherd.” He turns to his disciples and asks them to pray to God as a “harvest master.” The people coming to him were like a great harvest to whom God had carefully given life and growth. They needed gathering together. Jesus says that prayer is necessary, because there are so few harvest gatherers.

But the real shocker of the story is who he calls to be his twelve shepherd gatherers. They are the most ordinary of people. Of course, in his day, he called twelve males. They would have been the only ones he could have called. (Of course, I can’t help but think that he left us a clue to the evolution of his feelings when he chose to appear to Mary of Magdala after his resurrection, and to ask her to be the first to announce the Good News to his brothers.) He didn’t form a search committee. He didn’t test for competencies. There are several of the apostles who don’t seem to have ever distinguished themselves enough to even have legends about them survive.

Could it be that he chose ordinary guys, who were simply open to having their lives turned inside out? Could it be that in calling them, he is calling us?

I need to be reminded, at times, that my life in Jesus is not like membership in a club - I need to attend the meetings and pay my dues. It is a relationship that invites - calls - me to join Jesus in his mission. That call invites a response over and over again. It’s a real and dynamic as any relationship. So, I’m reminded that I need to listen today to what this one I love asks of me. I need to pay attention to how he might be stirring a desire in my heart, nudging me out of a rut, raising a troubling doubt about a destructive behavior, lighting a fire to be self-sacrificing in my love for others.

As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons. Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.

Today, can what I do be even a little proclamation that God’s reign is near? Can I in some way comfort those I meet who are sick or trouble? Can I bring some new life, where there appears to be only death? Can I welcome someone who is regarded as “unclean”? And, can I drive out of my heart any demons of negativity or greed or lust or any darkness?

We are indeed called and gifted.

May this day inspire our sharing of the gifts you have given us so freely, Lord.

Reflection by Andy Alexander SJ, Daily Reflection Archives 2009, https://onlineministries.creighton.edu/CollaborativeMinistry/061420-11th-Sun.html Source of image: Domenico Ghirlandaio, “Calling of the First Apostles” (1481), https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ghirlandaio,Domenico-_Calling_of_the_Apostles_-_1481.jpg