Reflection for Sunday – June 18, 2023
Readings: Exodus 19: 2-6a; Romans 5: 6-11; Matthew 9:36-10:8
Preacher: Sr. Karen Dietz
I grew up in a house of four girls (yep – no brothers) and two stories come to mind as I pray with the readings for today. The first is that like many parents, my mom sometimes called us by a name not our own. When I asked her why she called me by one of my sisters’ names she thought about it and decided that whatever I was needed for or doing was more like one of my other sisters, thus the name change. (I was never convinced!)
The second is about my dad. Having four daughters and no sons, he was very protective of us, and he often told us that we could be whatever we wanted to be. He insisted that women should not be constrained by social mores. His encouragement and faith in us were unwavering.
In today’s Gospel, we hear the naming of the disciples, calling them to be about the work in which Jesus had trained them. In the Gospel passage right before this Jesus himself modeled this work: healing, raising the dead and driving out demons. He taught them by example and then named them specifically for these works. I am sure each of the twelve, as they were sent out, took on this responsibility in his own manner. Jesus calling them by name gave them the courage to undertake these works. Jesus believed in them and empowered them to do so much more than they ever imagined for themselves.
God makes the call to Moses and the Israelites abundantly clear: you shall be my special possession, etc. As the people of God, we too rest in that blessed assurance. Paul, in the letter to the Romans anchors that assurance as he reminds the Romans and us that we are reconciled to God through Jesus. Knowing of this reconciliation, we can be confident that even though we sin, we still belong to God.
There are so many needs in our world today and sometimes it is hard to even take the first step. We can become paralyzed by them and feel helpless. When I hear of prayer requests for those impacted by illness, grief, violence, and separation I sometimes do not know where to begin. When I watch the nightly news, seeing story after story of pain and suffering I can become overwhelmed. I have found myself feeling powerless in my own neighborhood when our neighbor was gunned down just a couple of streets away. I suspect I am not alone in feeling this way. Figuring out how to respond in a meaningful way can be difficult.
We have been called by name to continue the work of Jesus. What does it mean to you that God has called you by name? God has not confused you with someone else. God has named each of us as disciples of compassion, understanding, healing, and hope. Like my dad, God believes we can do whatever we set our minds and hearts on. You might be asking yourself “how?” or “where do I begin?”
Today is our return to Ordinary Time after what might be considered a lengthy period of instruction. We began with the Lenten journey, a retreat of sorts that invited us to plunge more deeply into the heart of God and the paschal mystery. From there we moved to Holy Week and Easter, experiencing the lows and highs of the death and resurrection of Jesus. And then the Church gave us the 50 days of Easter to continue to unpack the mystery and to pray with the growth of the early church. Most recently, we have celebrated the Feasts of Pentecost, The Holy Trinity and Corpus Christi. Each of these feasts offered us reflections on the mysteries central to our call as disciples; the call to rely on the Spirit, the call to enter into relationship with a Triune God and the call to share in the Body of Christ.
All that we have prayed with and experienced has been our instruction concerning our personal call to discipleship. It is time for us to insert our own name in the list of those Jesus called. It is time for us to take hold of the work to which we have been commissioned, those of Jesus. The torch has been passed to us. You may sometimes feel that God has you mixed up with someone else; that surely God cannot mean you, but I assure you that is not the case. The psalm for today says it all so clearly:
Know that the Lord is God
God made us, to God we belong.
God’s people, God’s flock.
God is good:
God’s kindness endures forever,
Faithful to all generations.
Together I pray we embrace the call to be a compassionate and healing presence in a world broken and suffering. I pray we can build one another up when one of us is faltering. We are a people, and in this community, we find the courage to move forward. We walk this road with God and with one another. That is everything!