COMMENTARYAGAPE BIBLE STUDYGENERALCATENA AUREALIFE RECOVERY NOTES

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

OUR SUNDAY VISITOR
OUR SUNDAY VISITOR

Key Points to the Readings

FIRST READING

Amos 7:12-15

The Lord has called and sent me

  • The prophet Amos preached at a time when God’s people were divided into two kingdoms, Judah in the south and Israel in the north.
  • God calls Amos to give the northern kingdom of Israel an unpleasant message.
  • When Amos’s message is not welcome, he points out that the choice to become a prophet was not his own.
SOURCES: Content adapted from Our Sunday Visitor.  The clipart is from the archive of Father Richard Lonsdale © 2000 which may be freely reproduced in any non-profit publication.

SECOND READING

Ephesians 1:3-14

We have been chosen in Christ

  • The letter to the Ephesians begins with a great hymn of praise.
  • All people have been chosen by God in Christ, even before creation.
  • Christians are redeemed by Christ and sealed with the Holy Spirit.
SOURCES: Content adapted from Our Sunday Visitor.  The clipart is from the archive of Father Richard Lonsdale © 2000 which may be freely reproduced in any non-profit publication.

GOSPEL

Mark 6:7-13

He sent them out to preach and teach, giving them power to do so

  • In the Gospel story from Mark, Jesus sends the disciples out to do his work.
  • Today’s passage immediately follows the story of Jesus’ rejection in Nazareth.
  • If Jesus is rejected, the disciples continuing his work should also expect rejection.
SOURCES: Content adapted from Our Sunday Visitor.  The clipart is from the archive of Father Richard Lonsdale © 2000 which may be freely reproduced in any non-profit publication.


Dr. Kieran J. O’Mahony, OSA

HEARERS OF THE WORD (PDF)

Navarre Bible

SUNDAY COMMENTARY (PDF)

COMMENTARY

Click to access 15-ordinary-time-year-b.pdf

Sources include The Jerome Biblical Commentary, The New Jerome Biblical Commentary, and The Navarre Bible. In addition, Church History by Laux (TAN Books), Introduction to the Bible by Laux (TAN Books), A Guide to the Bible by Fuentes (Four Courts Press), and Sharing Our Biblical Story by Russell for background information. We also included quotations from The Faith of the Early Fathers (3 volumes) by Jergens and Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (many volumes) edited by Odum.
SOURCE: Bible study program at St. Charles Borromeo (Picayune, MS) courtesy of Military Archdiocese.
Raymond E. Brown

Introduction to the New Testament

EPH 1:3–14, FIRST PART OF THE THANKSGIVING

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SENDING OUT THE TWELVE (MK 6:7-13)

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Ave Maria Press

A Catholic Study of God’s Word

THE PROPHET AMOS

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saint louis university

Scripture in Depth

PREACHING THE LECTIONARY by Reginald Fuller

FIRST READING: This reading appears to have been chosen to go with the mission of the Twelve in the gospel. Amos is sent to God’s people in Israel (the northern kingdom) as the Twelve were sent to God’s people in Galilee. The passage places before us two contrasting conceptions of religion—one represented by Amaziah, priest of Bethel, and the other represented by the prophet Amos.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM: Its plausible context is the impending return from exile. While suitable for any occasion, it does not appear to have any particular connection with today’s readings.

SECOND READING:The contents suggest that these verses were taken from a baptismal hymn. They speak of (1) the election and predestination of the believer before the creation; (2) the Christ-event; (3) the gnosis conveyed in Christian experience; (4) the definition of gnosis as the cosmic scope of salvation history; (5) the distinction between “we” (Jewish Christians) and “you” (Gentile Christians), and the sealing of the latter with the Holy Spirit in their initiation.

GOSPEL: Mark clearly is very interested in the Twelve. They are sometimes presented in a highly negative way, as blind and unperceptive to the mystery of Jesus and his mission. Here, however, they are presented in a positive light. They are entrusted with the same message and mission as the Master himself. Clearly, Mark wishes to hold before his Church this twofold possibility. In Mark’s Church the successors of the apostles are simultaneously warned and encouraged.

RELATED:

  1. THE WORD EMBODIED: The Burden of Baggage
  2. HISTORICAL CULTURAL CONTEXT: Spirits, Travel & Hospitality
  3. THOUGHTS FROM THE EARLY CHURCH: Theophylact
  4. LET THE SCRIPTURES SPEAK: No Bread, Bag, or Money Belt
  5. SPIRITUALITY OF THE READINGS: Thanks
  6. GLANCING THOUGHTS: The Check is in the Mail
  7. THE PERSPECTIVE OF JUSTICE: A Genuine Apostolate
  8. A POEM TO SIT WITH: core samplings
Visit liturgy.slu.edu for more resources (e.g PRAYING TOWARD SUNDAY, MUSIC OF SUNDAY, GENERAL INTERCESSIONS) to help you reflect on the spirituality of the scriptures before Mass.

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

INTRODUCTION

Accepting or Rejecting Christ

Men and women in every generation since Jesus’s earthly mission have the choice of accepting or rejecting His Gospel message of salvation and the gift of His New Covenant Kingdom of the Church. The Church is the vehicle Jesus established to lead humanity on the pathway to eternal salvation.

Excerpts from Michal E. Hunt’s Agape Bible Study.  Material slightly reformatted. Used with permission.
First Reading

The Priest of the Northern Kingdom Rejects Amos’s Message

God sends the shepherd-prophet Amos to call the people of the apostate Northern Kingdom of Israel to repentance and to condemn their illicit altar at Bethel. The Israelites of the Northern Kingdom and their king violated obedience to Mosaic Law and rejected the rituals of worship God established in the Sinai Covenant.

Their king rejected God’s legitimately ordained priesthood and the liturgical assembly at the Jerusalem Temple. Under the guise of a nationalistic reformation, they drove out the priesthood of Aaron to form a counterfeit priesthood, and built a separate temple where they established illicit rituals of worship (1 Kings12:26-33; 2 Chr 11:13-17).

COMMENTARY

The Context

After the death of King Solomon, the ten northern Israelite tribes deserted his son, King Rehoboam, and formed a separate kingdom, electing a king who was not a Davidic heir. Their king, Jeroboam I, immediately broke away from the covenant God established with the children of Israel at Mt. Sinai. He dismissed the ordained priests who were the descendants of Aaron and established a separate priesthood from among men who were loyal to him. He didn’t want his people continuing to worship at the Temple in Jerusalem, so he built sanctuaries at Bethel and Dan and installed his version of liturgical worship that included the worship of pagan gods (1 Kings 12:20-33; 2 Chr 11:14-16). Each of his successors continued to promote illicit worship in the Northern Kingdom despite God’s warnings through His prophets that their abandonment of God’s covenant was going to bring down God’s wrath upon an apostate people and their king (1 Kings 14:15-16). In another attempt to call the people of the Northern Kingdom of Israel to repentance, God sent Amos to the Northern Kingdom’s sanctuary at Bethel.


Two Views of Religion

In our passage, we read about two opposing views concerning the exercise of religion. Amaziah, the priest of the illicit sanctuary at Bethel, was loyal to the king’s idea of what was acceptable worship for the people of the Northern Kingdom, including idol worship (1 Kings 12:28-30). Yahweh’s prophet Amos was an outsider from the Southern Kingdom of Judah. He was loyal to the exercise of worship as defined by Yahweh in the Sinai Covenant. In the Liturgy of right worship offered through the priestly descendants of Aaron (the first high priest) through sacrifices and worship at the Jerusalem Temple that Yahweh communed with His people.


Amos rejected by Amaziah

Amaziah rejected Amos as Yahweh’s representative and his call for repentance and conversion, and he challenged Amos’s right to prophesy in God’s name. He told Amos he had no authority as a prophet in the Northern Kingdom at “the king’s sanctuary” (notice he did not say Bethel is Yahweh’s Sanctuary). He told Amos to return to earn his living as a prophet in the Southern Kingdom of Judah (verses 12-13). Amos responded that he did not make his living as a prophet. He said that he was not a member of a prophetic brotherhood, nor was he a prophet attached to the court of the king of Judah, but a shepherd and tender of sycamore trees. However, Amos declared that he did have authority to prophesy at Bethel because God called him to that mission and gave him divine authority to preach repentance and condemn the people of the Northern Kingdom of Israel (verses 14-15).


Application for Us Today

To whom do you listen concerning the exercise of “right worship”? Do you follow those who have redefined the interpretation of Scripture to suit their agendas or the trends and morals of secular society and political leaders, like the apostate people of the Northern Kingdom? Or do you remain faithful to the teachings of Jesus Christ and the deposit of faith He entrusted to Peter and the Apostles who founded His Kingdom of the Church? The Church’s teaching has remained unchanged and faithfully passed down from Jesus to the Apostles, to the Bishops and priests of His Church, and to the faithful of every generation who call themselves true believers and defenders of the Word.

Excerpts from Michal E. Hunt’s Agape Bible Study.  Material slightly reformatted. Used with permission.
Responsorial Psalm

Hearing the Lord and Welcoming His Salvation

Response: “Lord, let us see your kindness and grant us your salvation.”

The psalmist declares God has been good to His people in the past, and He has good plans for His people in the future. His blessings include peace, prosperity, and salvation for those who “hear what God proclaims,” have a reverent fear of offending the Lord, and humbly present themselves to Him in the Liturgy of Christian Worship.

COMMENTARY

The Word Hesed

Verse 11 expresses a turning point in a reunion of covenant love and truth with justice and peace, using the Hebrew word hesed. The Old Testament expresses God’s love for His people in terms of the word hesed [checed], which our English translations usually render as “love,” “faithful love,” or “loving-kindness.”  However, hesed has a much narrower definition than the English word “love” conveys. In the Hebrew Scriptures, hesed refers to the kind of love promised and owed in an exchange of affection and loyalty based on the mutual obligations of love formed in the bonds of a covenant relationship. When hesed refers to human relationships, it means union and commitment in the context of the marriage covenant that creates a family. However, used between men or nations, it expresses the covenant bond of a treaty obligation (Gen 21:27; 1 Sam 11:1). When hesed describes God’s interaction with human beings, it represents Yahweh’s faithfulness to His covenant and the blessings and mercy He shows His obedient covenant people (Ex 34:6-7).

See the document “Is Hesed the Same as Agape.”

Meaning for Christians

In verse 12, the psalmist proclaims that at the time of the reunion between God’s covenant love, truth, and justice, salvation will come from Heaven (“justice shall look down from heaven”). Several Fathers of the Church saw the poetic imagery in verses 11-13 as the Incarnation of the divine Word in the union of the Godhead with human nature in Jesus of Nazareth. After Jesus announced the New Covenant in His blood (Lk 20:22) in His Last Supper Discourse, He also declared that He was the revelation of Divine Truth, saying, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me” (Jn 14:6). Concerning this verse, St. Athanasius wrote, “Truth and mercy embrace in the truth which came into the world through the ever-virgin Mother of God” (Expositions in Psalmos, 84).

Excerpts from Michal E. Hunt’s Agape Bible Study.Material slightly reformatted. Used with permission.
Second Reading

Accepting our Divine Election

St. Paul wrote to the Christians at Ephesus concerning the blessings of their divine election. They are God’s adopted children, sealed by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit through their baptism in Christ.

Paul’s message reminds us that all Christians should be grateful for their divine election through Christ Jesus as sons and daughters in the family of God. We show our gratitude by striving to accept and be obedient to the Gospel message and related teachings of Jesus and God’s holy words governing our conduct in Sacred Scripture.

Those teachings must not be altered or watered down to suit the agenda of those who support illicit worship as counterfeit preachers accepting the changing views of secular culture.

COMMENTARY BY MICHAL E. HUNT

The Context

St. Paul gave his affectionate greeting to the Christian community at Ephesus in Asia Minor (verses 1-2). He then continued with a hymn of praise to God for the many blessings Christians have received in their divine election as adopted children in the family of God. Paul's hymn of praise is full of images that may have come from early Christian hymns in the Liturgy of Christian worship.


Trinitarian Structure of Paul's Declaration of Praise

A Trinitarian structure is evident in Paul's declaration of praise, beginning with God the Father (verses 3-6, 8, 11), then Christ (verses 3, 5, 7-10, 12), and finally the Holy Spirit (verses 13-14).  Paul lists the spiritual blessings Christians have received through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ:

  1. The call to holiness (verse 4)
  2. The gift of divine adoption that establishes a unique spiritual relationship with the Father through the Son (verse 5)
  3. The liberation from sin through Jesus's sacrificial death (verse 7)
  4. The revelation of God's divine plan of salvation in Christ Jesus (verse 9)
  5. The gift of divine election and faith in Christ for "we who first hoped in Christ," referring to Jewish Christians (verse 12), and the same gift of divine election extended to "you also," referring to Gentiles Christians (verse 13)

God's Divine Plan

Paul testifies that God's divine plan to bring all creation under the rule of God the Son was predetermined before "the foundation of the world" (verses 3-5; also see 1 Pt 1:20). He writes that it has come upon this generation of Ephesian Christians for the mystery/secret of God's divine plan to be revealed/made known to those who accept Christ as Savior and fulfill all things in Christ (verses 6, 9, 12, 14). Verse 10 uses the merism "Heaven and earth" to express the concept of the universe. Hebrew had no word for the cosmos or universe; therefore, the two extremes "Heaven and earth" express totality.


Jewish vs. Gentile Christians

In verses 12 and 13, Paul contrasts Jewish Christians with the newly adopted Gentile Christians. The "we who first hoped" are the children of Israel/Jews who were in covenant union with God since the time of the Patriarchs. Yahweh set them apart from the Gentile world as a unified, holy people in the Covenant at Sinai (Ex 19:3-8; 24:3-7). It was to them that God first promised the Messiah, and they were the first to hear Jesus's Gospel of salvation during His earthly ministry.  With the coming of the Holy Spirit at the Jewish Feast of Pentecost, it was the faithful remnant of old Israel who became the ministers of Jesus's kingdom of the "new Israel" (CCC 877) that is His Church.  The Jews like Paul of the renewed and spiritually transformed Israel have carried the Gospel of salvation to "you also," the Gentiles in the Church's congregation at Ephesus.

Paul wrote that Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians are now One Body in Christ (Rom 12:4-5), "sealed" (verse 13) by God the Holy Spirit in the Sacrament of Baptism (CCC 1272-74, 1280). The "seal" of Christian Baptism is the "first installment" (verse 14) or down-payment by God on the promise of complete and eternal salvation. Paul also wrote to the Christians at Corinth: But the one who gives us security with you in Christ and who anointed us is God; he has also put his seal upon us and given the Spirit in our hearts as a first installment (2 Cor 1:21-22).

Excerpts from Michal E. Hunt's Agape Bible Study.  Material slightly reformatted. Used with permission.
Gospel

The First Missionary Journey of the Twelve Apostles

Jesus sends out the Apostles on their first mission to heal the sick, drive out demons, and call the people to mend their relationship with God through the repentance of their sins. It is a holy mission that their successors continue to share with the world, guided by Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.

We should remember that in the first mission, as today, some people will hear and accept Jesus's message of salvation, and others will reject or pollute the message by their false understanding. Our prayer for ourselves and the world is what we ask in the Responsorial Psalm, "Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation."

COMMENTARY

The Context

This event was the first time Jesus sent the Apostles out into towns and villages to preach with His authority.


Items to Take on the Journey

They could take three items:

  1. a walking stick
  2. sandals
  3. anointing oil

The Apostles were forbidden to take food, a sack, money, or a change of clothes. The list of items is slightly different in the accounts of similar missions in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.


Why No Sandals (Matthew) or Staff (Luke)?

The differences may reflect other missions where the journey was made somewhat harder by forbidding them to take even sandals or a staff that was necessary for protection against wild animals or robbers. While they could take a staff on the first mission, they had to rely on God to provide for their food and lodging. After their first experience gave them confidence, Jesus may have made their dependence on God even greater in forbidding the protective staff or sandals.

The absence of sandals may indicate God has hallowed the ground upon which they walked (see Ex 3:3;  Josh 5:15) since the Kingdom of God will now encompass the whole earth. The Jerusalem Temple was “holy ground,” and the priests were forbidden to wear sandals as they went about their ministerial duties (Mishnah: Tamid, 1:1Q-1:2J; 5:3).

In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus sent the 70 disciples out by twos with the same mission (Mt 10:5-15; Lk 9:1-6; 10:1-12). In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus instructed the Apostles not to go into pagan territory or Samaria but only “to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” because Jesus’s first obligation was to those who were already in covenant with God, the descendants of Jacob-Israel.


Jesus Sends Them Out in Twos

Jesus probably sent them out by twos for three reasons:

  1. Two is the smallest number of a community of believers.
  2. They are not alone but have each other to pray together, support each other, and discern together how to deal with problems.
  3. According to the Law of Moses, two witnesses are necessary to give testimony in a court of law (Num 35:30; Dt 19:15). In this case, there are two witnesses to back up the testimony of witnessing to Jesus’s miracles and His message.

Shaking the Dust

The missionaries of the Gospel are to stay in the same house to avoid causing jealousy within a community by having villagers compete in offering them hospitality. To welcome Jesus’s Apostles is to receive Him and His message of salvation, but refusing to listen to His emissaries is to refuse to listen to Jesus and reject His gift of eternal life (see Mk 8:38 and 9:37).

If a town does not welcome them, they are to leave and “shake the dust” of that place off their feet “in testimony against them.” Shaking the dust of the unreceptive town off their feet symbolizes an act of repudiation as well as a solemn warning that those who reject the message of Jesus carried by the Apostles reject Him (Acts 13:51).


Application for Us Today

The Church continues to fulfill this same ministry and acts of mercy which Jesus commanded the Apostles to offer in their first mission.  The Church’s ministers continue to anoint the sick with oil and petition God to cure them in imitation of the Apostles in the Sacrament of Anointing and with the same authority Jesus gave His Apostles (see Jam 5:14-15 and CCC 1510-111526). And the Church continues to offer the same spiritual and physical healing according to the will of God through the power of the Holy Spirit in the other Sacraments that are Jesus’s gift to His Church.

Excerpts from Michal E. Hunt’s Agape Bible Study.  Material slightly reformatted. Used with permission.

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

Niell Donavan

Sermon Writer

THIS SUNDAY'S GOSPEL

Featured Commentaries

Mark: Christ Centered Exposition Commentary - Advance the Kingdom (Mark 6:7-13)

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Exalting Jesus in Mark (Chr… by Juan Carlos Herrera

Mark: A Reader-Response Commentary - The Twelve as Trainees (6.7-13)

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Mark Commentary by Oscar Cabrera

Mark: A Theme Based Approach - Jesus Sends Forth His Disciples to Preach
SOURCE: Made available through SCRIBD. All rights reserved.
FEASTING ON THE GOSPELS - MARK

Jesus Calls Us Out to be Companions, Not Tourists

Compared with the Twelve, we act as though we were sent out to be tourists rather than disciples in the world.

GOSPEL: Who are being sent out as disciples today? Which ones in our congregations have been called to go out and for what purpose? In the early days of the church, enthusiasm marked those who were sent out to teach and heal. These days, evangelism is more about maintenance or survival. We are careful people who do not want to offend potential new members. What would be different if we were risk takers ready to lose our lives for the sake of the gospel?

The preacher may well ask what the present-day witness of the congregation is in the community. What form does the church’s witness take?...What if we walked hand in hand with the one called “enemy”?

Compared with the Twelve, we act as though we were sent out to be tourists rather than disciples in the world. We plan, pack, and go. The cab driver, the airport attendant, the ship’s crew are strangers—pleasant but separate. In every port, we are there solely for our own agenda. Hit the high spots, avoid the rubble, watch our backs, send pictures from the phone, and return to sea. No wonder tourists are often resented by the locals. No wonder Christians who seek to impose their agenda on the stranger are often rejected.

Might the witness we bear to the gospel at home also be touristlike? Our family wants and our business practices tend to be all about us, our church an institution that exists to meet our needs. To live as a tourist, even at home, is to live in a social bubble that negates our witness to the gospel. We were made to live in deep and abiding relation to one another and to order our corporate lives in relation to the common good. We glimpse this life when we choose to be vulnerable to the neighbor and the stranger, knowing the hurts, the needs, and the worth of the other. That is how disciples of Jesus Christ travel through life. Jesus sent his disciples out to be companions and friends, not tourists.

SOURCE: EXCERPT taken from FEASTING ON THE GOSPELS—MARK. All rights reserved.
FEASTING ON THE GOSPELS - MARK

Take Nothing for the Journey Except...

While we love our church furnishings, practices, and liturgies, in order to respond to the call of Christ to “go out,” we must be light enough on our feet to leave the things that weigh us down behind.

GOSPEL: This text takes us first to the attic and then to the curb. It asks what we really need materially in order to be effective. In front of every preacher is a congregation full of stakeholders and relic rescuers. Churches have unraveled over new candlesticks on the communion table, and pews suddenly removed from the back two rows. The preacher might well compare herself to someone who is readying the church for its future occupants. In doing so she could lift up what is of real value in relation to the church’s mission and what is superfluous, even wasteful. While we love our church furnishings, practices, and liturgies, in order to respond to the call of Christ to “go out,” we must be light enough on our feet to leave the things that weigh us down behind. The preacher could also consider what he needs as basics for life and ministry, while asking what the congregation might need, and not need, to be effective.

SOURCE: EXCERPT taken from FEASTING ON THE GOSPELS—MARK. All rights reserved.
PREACHER'S COMMENTARY

Functional Simplicity

Jesus wants His disciples to give the critics of the faith no easy targets for their slings and arrows.

GOSPEL: Jesus sends the disciples out with instructions to operate by the principle of functional simplicity. He tells them to take nothing for their journey except a staff and sandals, the essentials for physical protection. They are to take no bag, no bread, no money, and no more than one tunic—earmarks of independence and evidence of complete trust in God. He wants His disciples to give the critics of the faith no easy targets for their slings and arrows.

Warnings about the trappings of affluence need to be heard again today. Reports of multiplied millions of dollars flowing into Christian ministries, and media blowups of the slightest financial indiscretion remind us that Jesus’ principle of functional simplicity is still valid. The question of functional simplicity is, “What are the essentials that I need to function effectively as a witness for Christ without losing my primary dependence upon God?” If this question is honestly asked, answered, and acted out, many things will disappear from our lives and many more things will fall off our “want” list. Henry David Thoreau addressed the same principle when he proposed an equation for happiness. Divide your wants into your needs, he wrote, and the result will equal your happiness. If your wants are two and your needs are one, your happiness is one-half. But if you reduce your wants to one and your needs are one, your quotient for happiness is also one. To avoid criticism and win freedom, Jesus instructed His disciples to trust God for their needs and reduce their wants to the level of their needs.

SOURCE: Excerpt taken from THe Preacher's Commentary, Complete 35-Volume Set: Genesis–Revelation offers pastors, teachers, and Bible study leaders clear and compelling insights into the entire Bible that will equip them to understand, apply, and teach the truth in God's Word.
FEASTING ON THE WORD, YEAR B

Speaking Truth to Power

Amos poses a threat to homeland security. Like a live coal tumbling from the fireplace onto a straw mat, the Word of God has tumbled into his mouth, transforming this “herdsman” into a prophet.

FIRST READING - Speaking truth to power has never been easy or risk free. Examples such as Thomas à Becket, Thomas More, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Martin Luther King Jr. serve as much a cautionary function to some as an inspiration to others. Still, truth being what truth is—and power what power is—the work remains to be done.
Abraham Heschel says that a significant aspect of the office of prophet in Israel was to remind the king that his “sovereignty was not unlimited, that over the king’s mishpat [justice] stood the mishpat of the Lord—an idea that frequently clashed with the exigencies of government.” While the prophets of Israel enjoyed considerable freedom to “upbraid the kings and princes for their sins,” Heschel continues, “It was, indeed, an act of high treason when Amos stood at Bethel, the temple of the Northern Kingdom, and publicly prophesied, ‘Jeroboam shall die by the sword, and Israel must go into exile away from this land.’”

Amos poses a threat to homeland security. Like a live coal tumbling from the fireplace onto a straw mat, the Word of God has tumbled into his mouth, transforming this “herdsman” into a prophet. Now the flames threaten to spread from Amos’s tongue to consume everything and everyone around him, including the king. Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, tells King Jeroboam that “Amos has conspired against you in the very center of the house of Israel; the land is not able to bear all his words.”

The vocation of the prophet is illuminated in this passage all the more clearly because of Amos’s protest, “I am no prophet, nor a prophet’s son.” Amos stands without credentials. He is simply one who has heard and been claimed by the Word of the Lord. The prophet is not guided by his own convictions, as so many suppose, but is under the compulsion of “the Word God sent,” to use Paul Scherer’s evocative phrase. The prophet bears witness to the Word of God, even when that Word contradicts his own inclinations and experience. Amos’s integrity lies in his ability, in his willingness, and ultimately in his courage to bear testimony to this Word.

SOURCE: EXCERPT taken from FEASTING ON THE WORD - YEAR B. All rights reserved.
Feasting on the WORD - YEAR B

Idolatry of Human Power

When our sole focus is upon our own achievements and place in the world, we lose sight of where we are placed in this greater creation and who has placed us here.

FIRST READING: We are so small. As much as we huff and puff ourselves up—especially when we huff and puff ourselves up—we are so small. The relative prosperity and prestige by which many of us are surrounded can be crippling to our relationship with God. In our beautifully adorned sanctuaries we can begin to believe they are for us. In our lovely homes we can begin to believe that it is we who have provided for ourselves. In the vast variety and abundance of this world we can begin to believe that somehow it belongs to us.

But we are so small. When we deny our smallness, our place as created and not as creator, we risk being unable to hear the call of God’s word upon our lives. When we accept human systems as possessors of ultimate authority, we are living a lie. When we believe our position gives us the ability to control the will and movement of God through the institution of the church or any institution, we are lost. It is we who must be receptive to how God chooses to be at work in the world, not God who must conform to our systems and structures.

This text is an illustration of the idolatry of human power. When our sole focus is upon our own achievements and place in the world, we lose sight of where we are placed in this greater creation and who has placed us here. We pile up our resumes and our awards and our bank accounts and stand upon them, believing that they make us big. But what we stand upon is mere froth in front of God’s measuring plumb line. We are small. What makes us inherently valuable is our identity as the children of God. When we remember this valuable truth, we are given the freedom of recognizing both how small we are and how cherished we are. From this location we have the wonderful opportunity to keep our eyes peeled to the surprising ways God may be at work in the world.

SOURCE: EXCERPT taken from FEASTING ON THE WORD - YEAR B. All rights reserved.

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15th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

MARK 6:6-13

6. —And he went round about the villages, teaching.

7. And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits;

8. And commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only; no scrip, no bread, no money in their purse:

9. But be shod with sandals; and not put on two coats.

10. And he said unto them, In what place soever ye enter into an house, there abide till ye depart from that place.

11. And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.

12. And they went out, and preached that men should repent.

13. And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them.

ANNOTATED INDEX

Third Century

  • Origen – Alexandrian biblical critic, exegete, theologian, and spiritual writer; analyzed the Scriptures on three levels: the literal, the moral, and the allegorical
  • Cyprian – pagan rhetorician converted to Christianity; acquired acquired a profound knowledge of the Scriptures and the writings of Tertullian; elected bishop of Carthage; martyred in 258

Fourth Century

  • Eusebius – Bishop of Caesarea; author of Ecclesiastical History, the principal source for the history of Christianity from the Apostolic Age till his own day; also wrote a valuable work on Biblical topography called the Onomasticon
  • Athanasius – Bishop of Alexandria; attended the Council of Nicea; opposed Arianism, in defence of the faith proclaimed at Nicaea—that is, the true deity of God the Son
  • Hilary – Bishop of Poitiers; the earliest known writer of hymns in the Western Church; defended the cause of orthodoxy against Arianism; became the leading Latin theologian of his age
  • Gregory of Nazianzus – one of the “Cappadocian Fathers”; a great influence in restoring the Nicene faith and leading to its final establishment at the Council of Constantinople in 381
  • Gregory of Nyssa – one of the “Cappadocian Fathers”; Bishop of Nyssa; took part in the Council of Constantinople
  • Ambrose – Bishop of Milan; partly responsible for the conversion of Augustine; author of Latin hymns; it was through his influence that hymns became an integral part of the liturgy of the Western Church
  • Jerome – biblical scholar; devoted to a life of asceticism and study; his greatest achievement was his translation of the Bible into Latin (the Vulgate); also wrote many biblical commentaries
  • Nemesius – Christian philosopher; Bishop of Emesa in Syria
  • Augustine – Bishop of Hippo (in northern Africa); a “Doctor of the Church”; most famous work is his Confessions; his influence on the course of subsequent theology has been immense
  • Chrysostom – Bishop of Constantinople; a “Doctor of the Church”; a gifted orator; his sermons on Gen, Ps, Isa, Matt, John, Acts, and the Pauline Epistles (including Hebrews) established him as the greatest of Christian expositors
  • Prosper of Aquitaine – theologian; supporter of Augustinian doctrines; closely associated with Pope Leo I (“the Great”)
  • Damasus – pope; active in suppressing heresy
  • Apollinaris of Laodicea – Bishop of Laodicea; close friend of Athanasias; vigorous advocate of orthodoxy against the Arians
  • Amphilochius of Iconium – Bishop of Iconium; close friend of the Cappadocian Fathers; defended the full Divinity of the Holy Spirit

Fifth Century

  • Asterius of Amasea – Arian theologian; some extant homilies on the Psalms attributed to him
  • Evagrius Ponticus – spiritual writer; noted preacher at Constantinople; spent the last third of his life living a monastic life in the desert
  • Isidore of Pelusium – an ascetic and exegete; his extant correspondence contains much of doctrinal, exegetical, and moral interest
  • Cyril of Alexandria – Patriarch of Alexandria; contested Nestorius; put into systematic form the classical Greek doctrines of the Trinity and of the Person of Christ
  • Maximus of Turin – Bishop of Turin; over 100 of his sermons survive
  • Cassion (prob. Cassian) – one of the great leaders of Eastern Christian monasticism; founded two monasteries near Marseilles; best known books the Institutes and the Conferences
  • Chrysologus – Bishop of Ravenna; a “Doctor of the Church”
  • Basil “the Great” – one of the “Cappadocian Fathers”; Bishop of Caesarea; responsible for the Arian controversy’s being put to rest at the Council of Constantinople
  • Theodotus of Ancyra – Bishop of Ancyra; wrote against the teaching of Nestorius
  • Leo the Great – Pope who significantly consolidated the influence of the Roman see; a “Doctor of the Church”; his legates defended Christological orthodoxy at the Council of Chalcedon
  • Gennadius – Patriarch of Constantinople; the author of many commentaries, notably on Genesis, Daniel, and the Pauline Epistles
  • Victor of Antioch – presbyter of Antioch; commentator and collector of earlier exegetical writings
  • Council of Ephesus – declared the teachings of Nestorious heretical, affirming instead the unity between Christ’s human and divine natures
  • Nilus – Bishop of Ancyra; disciple of St John Chrysostom; founder of a monastery; conducted a large correspondence influencing his contemporaries; his writings deal mainly with ascetic and moral subjects

Sixth Century

  • Dionysius Areopagita (aka Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite) – mystical theologian; combined Neoplatonism with Christianity; the aim of all his works is the union of the whole created order with God
  • Gregory the Great – Pope; a “Doctor of the Church”; very prolific writer of works on practical theology, pastoral life, expositions of Job, sermons on the Gospels, etc.
  • Isidore – Bishop of Seville; a “Doctor of the Church”; concerned with monastic discipline, clerical education, liturgical uniformity, conversion of the Jews; helped secure Western acceptance of Filioque clause
  • Eutychius (Patriarch of Constan­tinople) – consecrated the church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople; defended the Chalcedonian faith against an unorthodox sect; became controversial later in life
  • Isaac (Bp. of Nineveh) (aka Isaac the Syrian) – monastic writer on ascetic subjects
  • Severus (Bp. of Antioch) – Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch; the leading theologian of the moderate Monophysites
  • John Climacus – ascetic and writer on the spiritual life; later Abbot of Mt. Sinai; best known for his Ladder of Divine Ascent which treats of the monastic virtues and vices
  • Fulgentius – Bishop of Ruspe in N. Africa; scholarly disposition; follower of St. Augustine; wrote many treatises against Arianism and Pelagianism

Seventh Century

  • Maximus ( of Constantinople, 645.) – Greek theologian; prolific writer on doctrinal, ascetical, exegetical, and liturgical subjects

Eighth Century

  • Bede (131CESK) – “the Venerable Bede”; a “Doctor of the Church”; pedagogue, biblical exegete, hagiographer, and historian, the most influential scholar from Anglo-Saxon England
  • John Damascene – Greek theologian; a “Doctor of the Church”; defender of images in the Iconoclastic Controversy; expounded the doctrine of the perichoresis (circumincession) of the Persons of the Trinity
  • Alcuin – Abbot of St. Martin’s (Tours); a major contributor to the Carolingian Renaissance; supervised the production of several complete editions of the Bible; responsible for full acceptance of the Vulgate in the West

Ninth Century

  • Haymo (of Halberstadt) – German Benedictine monk who became bishop of Halberstadt; prolific writer
  • Photius (of Constantinople) – Patriarch of Constantinople; a scholar of wide interests and encyclopedic knowledge; his most important work, Bibliotheca, is a description of several hundred books (many now lost), with analyses and extracts; also wrote a Lexicon
  • Rabanus Maurus – Abbot of Fulda in Hess Nassau; later Archbishop of Mainz; wrote commentaries on nearly every Book of the Bible
  • Remigius (of Auxerre) monk, scholar, and teacher
  • Paschasius Radbertus – Carolingian theologian; wrote commentaries on Lamentations and Matthew, as well as the first doctrinal monograph on the Eucharist, he maintained the real Presence of Christ

Eleventh Century

  • Theophylact – Byzantine exegete; his principal work, a series of commentaries on several OT books and on the whole of the NT except Revelation, is marked by lucidity of thought and expression and closely follows the scriptural text
  • Anselm – Archbishop of Canterbury; a “Doctor of the Church”; highly regarded teacher and spiritual director; famous ontological argument for the existence of God as “that than which nothing greater can be thought”
  • Petrus Alphonsus – Jewish Spanish writer and astronomer, a convert to Christianity; one of the most important figures in anti-Judaic polemics
  • Laufranc (prob. Lanfranc) – Archbishop of Canterbury; commented on the Psalms and Pauline Epistles; his biblical commentary passed into the Glossa Ordinaria

COMMENTARY

THEOPHYLACT. The Lord not only preached in the cities, but also in villages, that we may learn not to despise little things, nor always to seek for great cities, but to sow the word of the Lord, in abandoned and lowly villages. Wherefore it is said, And he went round about the villages, teaching.

BEDE. (in Marc. 2, 24) Now our kind and merciful Lord and Master did not grudge His servants and their disciples His own virtues, and as He Him self had healed every sickness and every infirmity, so also He gave the same power to His disciples. Wherefore it goes on: And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits. Great is the difference between giving and receiving. Whatsoever He does, is done in His own power, as Lord; if they do any thing, they confess their own weakness and the power of the Lord, saying in the name of Jesus, Arise, and walk.

THEOPHYLACT. Again He sends the Apostles two and two that they, might become more active; for, as says the Preacher, Two are better than one. (Eccl. 4:9) But if He had sent more than two, there would not have been a sufficient number to allow of their being sent to many villages.

GREGORY. (Hom. in Evan. 17) Further, the Lord sent the disciples to preach, two and two, because there are two precepts of charity, namely, the love of God, and of our neighbour; and charity cannot be between less than two; by this therefore He implies to us, that he who has not charity towards his neighbour, ought in no way to take upon himself the office of preaching. There follows, And he commanded them, that they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only; no scrip, no bread, no money in their purse: but be shod with sandals; and not put on two coats.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) For such should be the preacher’s trust in God, that, though he takes no thought for supplying his own wants in this present world, yet he should feel most certain that these will not be left unsatisfied, lest whilst his mind is taken up with temporal things, he should provide less of eternal things to others.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. (Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.) The Lord also gives them this command, that they might shew by their mode of life, how far removed they were from the desire of riches.

THEOPHYLACT. Instructing them also by this means not to be fond of receiving gifts, in order too that those, who saw them proclaim poverty, might be reconciled to it, when they saw that the Apostles themselves possessed nothing.

AUGUSTINE. (de Con. Evan. 2, 30.) Or else; according to Matthew (Matt. 10:19), the Lord immediately subjoined, The workman is worthy of his meat, which sufficiently proves why He forbade their carrying or possessing such things; not because they were not necessary, but because He sent them in such a way as to shew, that they were due to them from the faithful, to whom they preached the Gospel. From this it is evident, that the Lord did not mean by this precept that the Evangelists ought to live only on the gifts of those to whom they preach the Gospel, else the Apostle transgressed this precept, when he procured his livelihood, by the labour of his own hands, but He meant that He had given them a power, in virtue of which, they might be assured, these things were due to them. It is also often asked, how it comes that Matthew and Luke have related that the Lord commanded His disciples not to carry even a staff, whilst Mark says, And he commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only. Which question is solved, by supposing that the word ‘staff’ has a meaning in Mark, who says that it ought to be carried, different from that which it bears in Matthew and Luke, who affirm the contrary. For in a concise way one might say, Take none of the necessaries of life with you, nay, not a staff, save a staff only; so that the saying, nay not a staff, may mean, nay not the smallest thing; but that which is added, save a staff only, may mean that, through the power received by them from the Lord, of which a rod is the ensign, nothing, even of those things which they do not carry, will be wanting to them. The Lord therefore said both, but because one Evangelist has not given both, men suppose, that he who has said that the staff, in one sense, should be taken, is contrary to him who again has declared, that, in another sense, it should be left behind: now however that a reason has been given, let no one think so. So also when Matthew declares that shoes are not to be worn on the journey, he forbids anxiety about them, for the reason why men are anxious about carrying them, is that they may not be without them. This is also to be understood of the two coats, that no man should be troubled about having only that with which he is clad, from anxiety lest he should need another, when he could always obtain one from the power given by the Lord. In like manner Mark, by saying that they are to be shod with sandals or soles, warns us that this mode of protecting the feet has a mystical signification, that the foot should neither be covered above nor be naked on the ground, that is, that the Gospel should neither be hid, nor rest upon earthly comforts; and in that He forbids their possessing or taking with them, or more expressly their wearing, two coats, He bids them walk simply, not with duplicity. But whosoever thinks that the Lord could not in the same discourse say some things figuratively, others in a literal sense, let him look into His other discourses, and he shall see, how rash and ignorant is his judgment.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) Again, by the two tunics He seems to me to mean two sets of clothes; not that in places like Scythia, covered with the ice and snow, a man should be content with only one garment, but by coat, I think a suit of clothing is implied, that being clad with one, we should not keep another through anxiety as to what may happen.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. (Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.) Or else, Matthew and Luke neither allow shoes nor staff, which is meant to point out the highest perfection. But Mark bids them take a staff and be shod with sandals, which (1 Cor. 7:6) is spoken by permission.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) Again, allegorically; under the figure of a scrip is pointed out the burdens of this world, by bread is meant temporal delights, by money in the purse, the hiding of wisdom; because he who receives the office of a doctor, should neither be weighed down by the burden of worldly affairs, nor be made soft by carnal desires, nor hide the talent of the word committed to him under the ease of an inactive body. It goes on, And he said unto them, In what place soever ye enter into an house, there abide till ye depart from that place. Where He gives a general precept of constancy, that they should look to what is due to the tie of hospitality, adding, that it is inconsistent with the preaching of the kingdom of heaven to run about from house to house.

THEOPHYLACT. That is, lest they should be accused of gluttony in passing from one to another. It goes on, And whoever shall not receive you, &c. This the Lord commanded them, that they might shew that they had walked a long way for their sakes, and to no purpose. Or, because they received nothing from them, not even dust, which they shake off, that it might be a testimony against them, that is, by way of convicting themv.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. (Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.) Or else, that it might be a witness of the toil of the way, which they sustained for them; or as if the dust of the sins of the preachers was turned against themselves. It goes on, And they went and preached that men should repent. And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them. Mark alone mentions their anointing with oil. James however, in his canonical Epistle, says a thing similar. For oil both refreshes our labours, and gives us light and joy; but again, oil signifies the mercy of the unction of God, the healing of infirmity, and the enlightening of the heart, the whole of which is worked by prayer.

THEOPHYLACT. It also means, the grace of the Holy Ghost, by which we are eased from our labours, and receive light and spiritual joy.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) Wherefore it is evident from the Apostles themselves, that it is an ancient custom of the holy Church that persons possessed or afflicted with any disease whatever, should be anointed with oil consecrated by priestly blessing.

SOURCE: eCatholic 2000 Commentary in public domain.

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

First Reading

The Ways of an Infinite God

Job 38:8
“Who decreed the boundaries of the seas when they gushed from the depths? Who clothed them with clouds and thick darkness

New Living Translation (Hover cursor above the scripture reference to read the NRSV version)

JOB 38:2–39:30 God used a series of questions to illustrate how little Job knew about creation and God’s ways. If Job knew nothing of these mysteries, how could he know anything about God’s character? All Job could do was worship and trust God.

We, too, wonder why we suffer. We wonder why bad things happen to us and those we love. But like Job, we are finite and cannot understand the ways of our infinite God. All we can do is praise him and await his deliverance.

SOURCE: Content taken from THE LIFE RECOVERY BIBLE notes by Stephen Arterburn & David Stoop. Copyright © 1998, 2017. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.

FIRST READING

Facing Opposition in Recovery

Amos 7:13
Don’t bother us with your prophecies here in Bethel. This is the king’s sanctuary and the national place of worship!”

Amos 7:10-17 When Amos faced opposition, he was sure of his commitment to God and boldly persevered in what he knew to be God’s will. God had called him to enter new territory, and he had done it courageously.

We will face opposition in recovery, especially when we bring others the good news of restoration. People may feel threatened by our progress and want to see us fail so they won’t feel guilty about their own lifestyle. When we are being attacked, we may feel like giving up and giving in to others. But we must persevere, trusting God for protection and strength.

SOURCE: Content taken from THE LIFE RECOVERY BIBLE notes by Stephen Arterburn & David Stoop. Copyright © 1998, 2017. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.

Second Reading

God's Perfect Will for Our Life

Ephesians 1:5
God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.

Eph 1:3-6 Recovery cannot begin until we admit that our life is unmanageable and that we are powerless over our circumstances. The apostle Paul reminds us that God is sovereign over all the details of our life. God has a special plan for each of us, and that unchanging plan includes adopting us into his family.

We have already realized that doing things our way leads to painful consequences. With this in mind, we can be motivated to submit to God’s perfect will for our life. God wants only what is best for us. It is always God’s will for us to find new life in him.

Ephesians 1:12
God’s purpose was that we Jews who were the first to trust in Christ would bring praise and glory to God.

Eph 1:11-12 Some of us may wonder how we can know God’s will for our life. While there are details we may never know in advance, God’s Word points us in the right direction. God desires many things for all of us, and these are revealed in Scripture. God wants us to experience an intimate relationship with him through Christ.

In this relationship, God will delight in us and we will praise him in return. This is an amazing truth: God wants to have a close relationship with us, no matter who we are or what we have done. Because of what God has done for us through Jesus Christ, we can praise him and share the Good News with others in need.

SOURCE: Content taken from THE LIFE RECOVERY BIBLE notes by Stephen Arterburn & David Stoop. Copyright © 1998, 2017. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.

GOSPEL

Sharing Our Hope

Mark 6:12
So the disciples went out, telling everyone they met to repent of their sins and turn to God.

Mark 6:7-13 When we experience the joy of recovery, we naturally want to share the good news of the Messiah’s coming with others. Yet we are not always well received. The disciples faced rejection as they traveled, healed people, and preached repentance and deliverance. They were paired off and told what to take, where to stay and for how long, and what to do when rejected.

As we share the healing we have experienced in the recovery process, not everyone will be responsive. When ridiculed or rejected, we must press on to share our hope with the next fellow struggler we meet. Sharing our message may be the difference between life and death for someone in need.

SOURCE: Content taken from THE LIFE RECOVERY BIBLE notes by Stephen Arterburn & David Stoop. Copyright © 1998, 2017. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.
Gospel

Betraying God

Mark 14:18
and as they were sitting around the table eating, Jesus said, “I solemnly declare that one of you will betray me, one of you who is here eating with me.”

MK 14:10-26 We are often shocked by Judas’s betrayal of Jesus. Since Judas had spent about three years in close friendship with Jesus, we wonder what could have prompted him to act as he did.

Yet if we are truly honest with ourself, we may see the same potential in our own heart. Whenever we refuse to give Jesus authority over a certain area of our life, we act like Judas. Whenever we promise to do one thing and then do another, we act like Judas. We all have betrayed God in some way or another. We should use Judas’s failure as an opportunity to take a hard look at our own life. In what ways are we betraying God?

SOURCE: Content taken from THE LIFE RECOVERY BIBLE notes by Stephen Arterburn & David Stoop. Copyright © 1998, 2017. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.
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