Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

July 14, 2024

July 14, 2024

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July 14, 2024

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Katie

Katie

Laskey

Laskey

I imagine the reaction of the disciples being sent out by Jesus as equal parts flattered, excited, and absolutely terrified. Based on my experience with young people in the classroom, I imagine the disciples peppering Jesus with questions: Can we really not bring any food? What about bread? Water? Can we really not bring any money? How am I supposed to carry my stuff without a sack? Do I really have to talk to strangers? How will I know what to say? Do I have to go with that partner? This type of incessant questioning usually indicates anxiety about the task at hand. Like Amos and other Old Testament prophets, the Twelve weren’t educated rabbis - they were regular folks, raised in the Jewish faith, but not considered experts in religious studies. I imagine they felt unprepared and unqualified for this prophetic and pastoral assignment. But, despite the many questions they probably would have had, the disciples go as Jesus instructed, because the Gospel tells us they preached repentance and drove out demons and cured the sick - remarkable feats for the fishermen, tax collectors and all-around regular guys that they were.

I’m currently preparing for a cross country move to take a new job at a Catholic high school, and it feels as if I’m being sent into this new chapter of life. Transitions in young adulthood are strange - there’s no scripted next step and I haven’t reached the point of settling in one place for an extended period. This era of life requires attentive listening to God’s grace and being open to where it might lead. It requires radical abandonment of self and patience in uncertainty, two dispositions that the disciples had to cultivate in their time away from Jesus. In preparing to move, I find myself asking similar questions to the ones I imagine the disciples were thinking as Jesus was giving them their instructions. What do I really need to bring with me? Is it necessary to bring every book I’ve accumulated over the past four years? Do I need every letter my mom has ever sent me? Do I need that pair of sandals I’ve worn only twice in three years? The preparation to move means I hear Jesus’s words in a new way; There is little I own that I really need. And holding on to my accumulated stuff won’t help me be a better minister to young people in my new job. Reading the Gospel makes me ask: What do we really need to be missionary disciples of Christ? We need partners, a walking stick, and confidence.

First, a partner. Jesus sends out the disciples two by two. He doesn’t expect them to do anything alone, but rather, in relationship. He gives them someone else to accompany, to bounce ideas off of, to lean on when the work gets difficult. God has given me many companions who are helping me make my transition, from family members to friends to professional and spiritual mentors. Who in your life gives you strength to make hard decisions or tackle difficult projects? Who accompanies you on the journey of faith when you experience doubt or frustration?

Second, a walking stick. I’m moving to the Pacific Northwest, where being outdoorsy is basically a requirement. The natural beauty and abundance of hiking opportunities are a major draw of the area, but I’m not exactly what you would call an expert hiker. I’m more of a stop-every-few-minutes to catch my breath type of hiker. And the disciples would’ve been traveling much greater distances on foot than my typical 4 mile loop trail. A walking stick would’ve been an important physical tool to lean on when their feet got sore and the will to go on was dwindling. But the walking stick speaks to me metaphorically as well. It’s God’s support for us on the lifelong journey of discipleship; not a sign of weakness or incapability, but a symbol of the strength that radical dependence on God affords us. We’re not expected to fix the world’s problems on our own with mere human intervention; We lean on God’s grace to enter the most dire of situations - war, climate disaster, poverty, prejudice, even self-doubt - and we remember our hope in Christ, in whose blood, St. Paul tells us in the letter to the Ephesians, we have redemption and forgiveness.

Lastly, we need confidence - that ever-elusive, intangible quality that enables us to speak boldly and act with justice. Jesus warns the Twelve that some people will not accept their message, and he says to shake the dust off their feet and keep moving. Not to yell at the people or condemn them, but accept where they’re at and move forward. What a radical shift this would be for our current political climate, our culture of ceasing all communication and openness to people who see things radically different from us. Jesus tells the disciples to not take rejection personally, to keep the faith as they make their way as preachers and pastoral ministers. We have this same call today. It is disheartening when a group or institution, whether it be the Church herself, a government body, or even one’s own family, excludes us for being who we are. But Jesus’s confidence in his young, inexperienced disciples is given to us as well. I can face the inevitable self-doubt and rejection by others that comes with being a disciple of Christ, not without pain or suffering, but with the deeply felt knowledge that God loves me, exactly as I am. God wants me to use my gifts for His glory, even when I don’t feel “qualified” to be a preacher because I don’t have an advanced theology degree. God needs my voice, my compassion for my neighbors, my experience as a lay minister in the church. And God needs your voice, your compassion, your bravery, to be Jesus’s hands and feet in the world that so desperately needs God’s mercy and love.

So today, I hope we can hear Jesus’s summons and missioning as directed to each of us - so we can find our companions, let go of what we think we need, and root ourselves in the confidence the Holy Spirit provides, so we can fully embrace our baptismal, prophetic identities.

First Reading

Am 7:12-15

PSALM

Ps 85:9-10, 11-12, 13-14

Second Reading

Eph 1:3-14 or 1:3-10

GOSPEL

Mk 6:7-13
Read texts at usccb.org

Katie Laskey

Katie Laskey

Katie Laskey is an educator and youth minister wrapping up her time as Coordinator of Youth Ministry at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Washington, DC. Having taught in Catholic middle schools for five years, this Fall she returns to the classroom as a Theology Teacher/Community Minister at Seattle Preparatory School. Her first experience preaching was as a high school student in parish youth ministry at the Catholic Community of St. Charles Borromeo in Skillman, NJ. As a former trombone player in the Notre Dame Band, she enjoys sports of all kinds, but especially women's basketball and the New York Yankees.

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