14th Sunday of Ordinary Time
July 3, 2016
Reginald H. Fuller
Reading I: Isaiah 66:10-14c
Originally this prophecy from Third Isaiah spoke of the joy
following the restoration of Gods people from exile. The returning
exiles are received back by the holy city as a mother who consoles
them at her breasts and dandies them on her lap.
is mixed, for it also speaks of YHWH sending his “prosperity”
which the caption inadequately renders as peace presumably to establish a link
with the Gospel) like a river. (Note the reference to peace in the second reading
also; otherwise there seems to be very little connection between the three readings.)
reading, however, is appropriate for the post-Pentecost season, in which the
Church enjoys the fruits of redemption, particularly the gift of the Spirit.
Responsorial Psalm: 66:1-3, 4-5, 6-7, 16, 20
This is a psalm
of thanksgiving for a national deliverance, pictured in imagery
derived from the original Exodus: “He turned the sea
into dry land: men passed through the river on foot.”
prophecies of Second Isaiah spoke of the return from exile
in these terms, so the psalm forms a good response to the
first reading. It is a thanksgiving for all the blessings
of redemption and, for us particularly, for the gift of the
The latter verses of the psalm (here represented by Ps 60:16 and 20) take a
surprisingly individualistic turn. It is reasonable to suppose that at some juncture
two originally distinct psalms were combined.
The Christian sees a personal religious
experience as part of the experience of the entire body, while the experience
of the entire body is reflected in the experience of the individual.
of the Holy Spirit is at once corporate and individual. At times in the history
of the Church one aspect has been emphasized at the expense of the other. Both
must be held in balance.
Reading II: Galatians 6:14-18
It was Paul’s custom
to dictate his letters to an amanuensis, and then to take the
pen himself and add a few concluding words. In these words
he summarized and drove home the message of the whole letter.
The purpose of Galatians is to dissuade his Gentile readers from
lapsing into syncretism. They are probably not Judaizing in
the strict sense, for Paul has to remind them that anyone who
gets circumcised is obligated to keep the whole law, which
would have been self-evident to a genuine Judaizer.
Paul “glories,” not in circumcision as his opponents do, but in the cross. What
matters for him is that the believers have been re-created
into a new existence, and in this new existence it is not the
marks of circumcision but the marks of his apostolic sufferings,
in which Christ crucified is manifested, that are important.
Finally, the Apostle gives his readers his blessing in a style that
suggests (as the conclusion of other letters, especially
1 Corinthians, suggest even more clearly) that his letters
were written to lead into the celebration of the Lord’s Supper.
Luke 10:1-12, 17-20 or 10:1-9
All three synoptic Gospels record a mission of the Twelve during Jesus’ earthly ministry. The mission of the Seventy (some texts
have seventy-two) is peculiar to Luke.
In chapter 9 Luke has already followed his Marcan source for the mission of the Twelve.
Here he follows Q and his special material for the mission of the Seventy.
The Q material is also used by Matthew in his mission charge to the Twelve. So it is clear that the idea of a mission
of the Seventy was created, not by Q or Mark, but by Luke or his special material.
There can be little doubt that the number seventy is symbolic. The mission of
the Twelve represents the Church’s mission to Israel (twelve tribes); and the
mission of the Seventy, its mission to the nations of the world (which according
to Jewish tradition, numbered seventy or seventy-two).
Some critics maintain
that the whole idea of missions during the earthly ministry is a retrojection
of the post-Easter mission into the earthly life of Jesus. But it is noteworthy
that the disciples are charged to proclaim Jesus’ own message: “The kingdom
of God has come near to you,” not the Christological kerygma of the post-Easter
The mission is to be characterized by urgency and detachment. The exact
expression of this urgency and detachment is conditioned by the circumstances
of the time. But in some form or other, urgency and detachment must always characterize
the Church’s mission.
Two other features are worthy of note. First, it is not the disciples (and therefore
not the Church) that initiate the mission. The initiative comes from the Lord
of the harvest in response to the Church’s prayer.
The disciples return from
their mission elated by their success, but Jesus at once dampens their elation:
“Do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you; but rejoice that
names are written in heaven.”
There is an even more significant joy for
the missionary: prior to their mission, they had been admitted to the privilege
of partaking in the eschatological salvation. When they forget that, they are
tempted to think that the mission is their own cause and that the success is
their own achievement.
Even an apostle or an evangelist is a justified sinner.
Reginald H. Fuller
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Preaching the Lectionary:
The Word of God for the Church Today
Reginald H. Fuller and Daniel Westberg. Liturgical Press. 1984 (Revised Edition), pp. 482-484.
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