Sunday: 14 Sunday of Ordinary Time. Date: July 3, 2016 Year: C The readings: [Is. 66:10-4; Gal. 6:14-18; Lk. 10:1-12, 17-20] The message: Bringing God's reign into our world. Prepared by: Catholic Doors Ministry Total words: 1635
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Greetings my brothers and sisters in Christ. Reviewing today's readings for the Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, I perceived that they all had one common denominator. All three readings encourage us to bring God's reign into our world.
The First Reading from the Book of Isaiah began by saying that we should rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad for her, all of us who love her. We should rejoice with her in joy, all of us who mourn over her. [Is. 66:10] Based on these words, it appears that our joy should be for the physical City of Jerusalem. The verse that follows implies that Jerusalem is alive, being a life giving body. It states, "that you may nurse and be satisfied from her consoling breasts; that you may drink deeply with delight from her glorious bosom." [Is. 66:11]
In actuality, these verses speak of the arrival of the spiritual Kingdom of God on earth in Jerusalem on Pentecost Day. In those days, Jesus had ordered His disciples not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. [Acts 1:4] When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them." [Acts 2:1-3]
On Pentecost Day, the invisible Kingdom of God was officially established on earth as it had been established in Heaven on the Day of the Ascension of our Lord Jesus.
Yes, we should all rejoice for Jerusalem. For the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, came down out of Heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. [Rev. 21:2] The new Jerusalem, the Kingdom of God on earth, chose the physical City of Jerusalem as the location from which the work of God was called to prosper on earth through the grace of the Heavenly Father and the power of the Holy Spirit in the Most Holy Name of Jesus.
See, the home of God is among mortal. He dwells with us as our God. [Rev. 21:3] Thought the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church which is the visible reflection on earth of the invisible Kingdom of God, the New Jerusalem has arrived on earth. And now, God dwells with us in the Blessed Tabernacle.
Through the mystical Body of Christ, we are nursed by God and His glorious Church. Through the Sacraments, our joy is fulfilled. Through faith in Jesus and the Sacrament of Baptism, we are made righteous and admitted into the Kingdom of God. We receive from God the undeserved indwelling of the Holy Spirit, a new heart and a new spirit. Through the Sacrament of Confirmation, we are equipped by the Holy Spirit to do the work of the Lord. Through our living faith, we are sanctified by the Holy Spirit in order to become in the likeness of Jesus. Through the Sacrament of Confession, our righteousness is continuously reinstated. Through the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, we receive the Bread of Life that unites us with Christ so we may receive our salvation.
Through the fruits of the new Jerusalem, God reigns in our world, in our Church and within us through the Holy Spirit. As a mother comforts her child, so God promised to comfort us in Jerusalem. [Is. 66:13] Through the Sacraments of the Church, the new Jerusalem, God does comfort us, His children. In Jesus, we find the love, peace and joy that sets us apart from those who walk in the darkness. Through Jesus, the true Light of the world, we have become lights in the world, sent forward to bring the good news to all the nations.
Today's Second Reading from the Letter to the Galatians teaches us that in order to bring God's reign into our personal world, we must boast of nothing other than the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. (The cross of the Lord means the whole Christ event.) For "it is written, 'Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.'" [1 Cor. 1:31; 2 Cor. 11:16-12:10] Personal boasting is a sign of self- reliance; boasting in the Lord is dependence on the grace and favour of God.
In the days of Saint Paul some boasted about circumcision or uncircumcision. Today, some may boast that they have a nice vehicle to drive them to Church or that they have nice clothing compared to others. Some may even boast that they are more involved in the Church than others who are paid employees. Saint Paul tells us that all these external worldly things mean nothing. [1 Cor. 7:19] Being a new creation is everything! [Gal. 6:15] The most important thing in the Christian life is being born again, this being the first step towards one's transformation in Christlikeness. [Col. 3:10; Eph. 2:10, 4:24] Those who are transformed in Christ, having been crucified with Christ, [Rom. 6:6] having died with Christ, [Rom. 6:3] having been buried with Christ [Rom. 6:4] and having risen with Christ, [Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:12] (C.C.C. # 628) they become a new "creature."
To bring God's reign into our lives, we must be counted among the spiritual children of God, the new offsprings of Abraham. For it is we who worship God in spirit and boast in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh. [Phil. 3:3]
During the Second Reading, we heard Saint Paul mentioning that he carried the marks of Jesus branded on his body. Some have interpreted this to mean that Saint Paul beared the stigma. When reviewing the word in its original text, the word "marks" does not translate to the word "stigmata" in English. What St. Paul was referring to was all the suffering that he had to endure for Christ. He endured illness, [4:13; 2 Cor. 12:7], flogging [Acts 16:22, 2 Cor. 11:25] and stoning [Acts 14:19] for Christ. These marks that he carried on his body were proof that he was a slave of Christ. [Rom. 1:1; Gal. 1:10] They were the marks that counted, the marks that he could boast about against those who would try to give glory to a mark on the flesh such as circumcision.
Equally today, those who have nice cars or nice clothing have nothing to boast about in view of the fact that many Catholics bear marks of suffering, torture and imprisonment as slaves of Christ. Through their suffering, they have brought God's reign into our world. They are living examples of Saints who are ready to suffer so the glory of God may be seen in the world.
Today's reading from the Gospel of Luke brings to our attention how and when the Kingdom of God in Heaven was prepared while awaiting the arrival of Christ in Heaven after His glorious Resurrection.
Jesus appointed seventy disciples and sent them on ahead of Him in pairs to every town and place where He Himself intended to go. [Lk. 10:1] When the seventy returned with joy, they told Jesus that even the demons submitted themselves to them in the Name of Jesus.
To this, Jesus answered, "I watched Satan fall from Heaven like a flash of lightning." [Lk. 10:18] At this point during the ministry of Jesus on earth, a great battle was taking place in Heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon. The dragon and his angels fought back, but they were defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in Heaven. The great dragon was thrown down, the ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world. - he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him." [Rev. 12:7-9]
Consequently Satan, the adversary who argued before the Heavenly Throne as a prosecuting attorney against the people of God [Job 2:1-6; Zech. 3:1] could no longer bring charges against those who belong to the Body of Christ.
In view of this, the following is known:1) When the seventy two disciples announced that "the Kingdom of God has come near to you," [Lk. 10:9] Satan was casted out of Heaven. [Lk. 10:18]
2) When Jesus resurrected and ascended to Heaven, He took possession of the Heavenly Kingdom. He was "the firstborn within a large family." [Rom. 8:29] He was the first fruits of those who have died. [1 Cor 15:20] He was the firstfruit of all creation. [Col. 1:15] He was the first to resurrect and to enter the Kingdom of God as the King of kings.
3) When the day of Pentecost had come and the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples, [Acts 2:1-3] the invisible Kingdom of God arrived on earth as it is in Heaven.
By understanding these truths, by the grace of God, our eyes have been opened and we are now able to bring God's reign into our world. While some may continue to wait for what has already come, the arrival of the Kingdom of God on earth, we rejoice in knowing that it has arrived. Now, we can "worship the Father in spirit and truth" [Jn. 4:23] in the fulfillment of the promise of Jesus that such would come to pass and that it is pleasing to God.
In conclusion my brothers and sisters in Christ, God promised to bring His reign into our world and He has done so. As children of the Kingdom of God, we boast in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.
As you continue to participate in the celebration of the Holy Mass, be thankful to God for bringing His reign into your world. Be thankful to God that through His dwelling on earth, you are able to receive the precious Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist that richly feeds your soul towards eternal salvation.
"Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her,
all you who love her;
rejoice with her in joy,
all you who mourn over her -
that you may nurse and be satisfied
from her consoling breast;'
that you may drink deeply with delight
from her glorious bosom.
For thus says the Lord:
'I will extend prosperity to her like a river,
and the wealth of the nations like an overflowing stream;
and you shall nurse and be carried on her arm,
and dandled on her knees.
As a mother comforts her child,
so I will comfort you;
you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.
You shall see, and your heart shall rejoice;
your bodies shall flourish like the grass;
and it shall be known
that the hand of the Lord is with her servants." [Is. 66:10-4]
"Brothers and sisters: May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is anything; but a new creation is everything!
As for those who will follow this rule - peace be upon them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God. From now on, let no one make trouble for me; for I carry the marks of Jesus branded on my body.
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen." [Gal. 6:14-18]
"The Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go.
He said to them, 'The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore ask the lord of the harvest to send out labourers into the harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road.
Whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace to this house!' And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the labourer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house.
Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, 'The kingdom of God has come near to you.'
But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, 'Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.' I tell you, on that day it will be more tolerable for Sodom than for that town.'
The seventy returned with joy, saying, 'Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!' Jesus said to them, 'I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you.
Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.'" [Lk. 10:1-12, 17-20]