Homily for 15th Sunday of Ordinary Time
July 11, 2021
I tend to over-pack whenever I go on a trip. I usually pack more clothes and supplies than I would ever need. It gives me a feeling of comfort—that I have control over every possible contingency I may encounter. So, today’s Gospel (Mk 6:7-13) makes me a little uncomfortable when Jesus tells his disciples exactly what to bring for their journey, and what to leave behind.
He instructs them: Bring no food, no sack, and no money; bring just your sandals, a walking stick, and the clothes on your back. Every need the Twelve have on the way will be met, but it will be met by God’s providence, not with their own self-sufficiency. The disciples are to trust in God to sustain their efforts to preach repentance, drive out demons, anoint the sick and cure them.
Their mission is clear, and so is the message: Trust in God. He will provide all you need.
I am certain that these first missionary disciples had built a high level of trust in Jesus because of their close, personal relationship. After all, Jesus chose the Twelve. He taught them, summoned them ,and now sends them to be his missionaries.
We too, as Christians, are called to be missionary disciples. Through our Baptism we are called to share the good news of Christ with others. We do that by how we live and love in our world each day. But we don’t have the same opportunity for spiritual formation and direct contact with Jesus like the Twelve. They had the advantage of seeing Jesus face-to-face, watching him, listening to him and learning from him. That close relationship surely created a strong trust between them and Jesus.
So, how do we—as modern-day followers of Christ—increase our trust in God’s providence in our life? The answer is prayer (the answer is always prayer).
Prayer can be as simple as a conversation with God:
- Taking time to build a loving relationship with our Creator
- Opening ourselves to the one who gives us everything we need
- Allowing God’s spirit to move through us: from head, to heart, to hands and feet, equipping us for the journey
LESSONS FROM PRAYER
I want to share three key things I have learned from prayer and how it helps us build trust and relationships:
Prayer needs to be a priority in life.
We need to take time each day to listen to and speak with God—to give over to God what we don’t need in our lives, and to receive from God what we do need.
Prayer doesn’t have to be overly formal all of the time. Some of our best prayers can come from having a conversation with a good friend (God). The secret to fruitful prayer is: just do it!
We need to be persistent in prayer.
Some years ago, my wife and I flew to San Antonio to attend the recording of a David Kauffman concert. After the concert we were invited to meet up for drinks with some San Antonio friends we knew from the ACTS retreats. As we were enjoying the beautiful autumn evening and discussing the concert, the host asked me: “So, Dan, how is your prayer life?” It caught me a little off balance and I responded, “On which day?” Some days I can feel so close to God in prayer (“Like peas and carrots,” as Forrest Gump would say) and other days, I feel distant from God. And when I feel distant, I have to persist with confidence and trust that God knows my struggles.
Some days our prayer will be better than others, but always do your best; be persistent in prayer.
Invite Others into Your Prayer
For the past several years, I have had the privilege of working with a group of married couples (Teams of Our Lady) from our parish who are endeavoring to grow in their faith as married couples and parents. One of the ways they attempt to grow is by praying with their spouse and children on a regular basis. My response to this endeavor of practicing conjugal prayer is to include my wife in my daily prayer. In the morning, while I am sipping my coffee and finishing my coffee, I simple as Becky, “What should we pray for today?”
This simple question helps promote dialogue between the two of us. It helps me learn what is important to my wife—what is weighing on her heart and mind—and helps us both get on the same page.
You cannot be a missionary disciple if you do not pray:
- We need prayer time to grow in trust and understanding of God’s will for us
- We need prayer time to grow with each other as community
- We need prayer time to remind us that we are loved and provided for (We truly can do all things through Christ!).
Today’s Gospel invites us to renew our trust in God and to make a fresh start as missionary disciples.
I encourage you to have a conversation with your spouse—or some other trusted friend—this week and discuss: How is your prayer life? and What should we pray for?
As we approach the altar today in Eucharist, may we have full confidence and trust in our all to be missionary disciples, and in God’s grace to help us persevere.