14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, July 3

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

The last few chapters of the Book of Isaiah speak of the time after the Jewish people returned from exile and faced the task of rebuilding Jerusalem. Given the sad effects of the exile, those were hard times. So the prophet spoke words of encouragement, reminding the people of the grand destiny that the Lord was restoring before them. The words of today’s reading are so filled with confidence and celebration, it must have been hard for the people to believe them.
It must have been the same experience for the seventy-two disciples that Jesus sent into the impoverished countryside of Samaria. People heard the proclamation that the Kingdom of God was about to break open before them. And the promise came to them from the lips of disciples who brought nothing with them other than the word of promise. Today’s gospel describes the effect this had on the people of Samaria.
Today’s second reading continues our reflection on Paul’s letter to the Galatians. When Paul says he boasts only in the cross of Christ, he means that everything valuable in his life is the result of what Christ had done for him and comes from Christ, and not from anything else. Paul was entirely focused on the Lord Jesus Christ.

—Walter Modrys SJ

This week’s readings can be found on the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ website.

5th Sunday of Easter, May 15

Fifth Sunday of Easter

Last Sunday our reading from the Acts of the Apostles recounted the beginning of Paul’s first missionary journey. Today’s reading tells us how that journey ended.
Paul and his companion, Barnabas, have traveled through the southern part of present-day Turkey. Their usual strategy on entering a town is to begin by speaking in the synagogue, the worship space where Jews and even some Gentiles gather. A general pattern soon develops. Many Gentiles tend to be more receptive to their message.
In the face of resistance and persecution, Paul and Barnabas move from town to town. In today’s reading, they are backtracking on their way home, retracing their steps, revisiting the towns they had earlier passed through. This time Paul begins to put in place an organizational structure in each town that would later develop into a hierarchical leadership in Christian communities. 
When they finally arrive back home in Antioch in Syria, they are warmly received and all are amazed at their reports, especially how the Gentiles are open to Christian belief.
Our second reading offers the beautiful image of the heavenly Jerusalem. All through the bible, Jerusalem is a symbol of the true home for God’s faithful people. Finally, at the culmination point of all human history, Jerusalem will be freed from all its unfaithfulness and the tragedies it has had to endure. This restored, heavenly Jerusalem will be the place where God dwells among his people, with “no more death or mourning, wailing or pain.” It is a spectacular image of the future that God’s grace will usher in.
Finally, the gospel verses record Jesus speaking at the Last Supper.  Keep in mind as you listen to today’s reflections, that these verses are preceded in the gospel by Judas’ departure to initiate his plot against Jesus and followed by Jesus’ foretelling the threefold denial by Peter. Still Jesus can speak about his Father’s glory and the mandate to love.
—Walter Modrys SJ

This week’s readings can be found on the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ website.