14th Sunday in Ordinary Time

In today’s Gospel, the seventy-two disciples were sent out to preach and cure the sick and prepare the way for Jesus.  Jesus was sent by the Father to reveal Who God IS to us.  Jesus shared that mission with His Apostles, with His disciples, and He continues to share that mission with each and every one of us here today.  We are called to help others come to know Jesus Christ.

We receive many gifts from God, and the gifts that we receive are not only for our own benefit alone, they are given to us that we might use them to build up the Kingdom of God.  The talents that we have, we have received, and we are to use them for the glory of God.  We are all to offer the talents that God has given to us back to Him.  We are to use them for His honor and glory.  Everything that we have, we have received.  Let us be sure to thank God for the many gifts we have and use them in ways pleasing to Him.

One of the most important gifts that each one of us has been given is the gift of faith.  We are not Catholics by accident.  We did not choose Jesus Christ, He chose us.  God brought us into relationship with Himself, not because we deserve it, or are better than others.  The faith that we have is a gift that was freely given to us by God.  We didn’t do anything to deserve it: it was a pure gift.  God gave us the gift of faith for our own salvation but also so that we could bear witness to Him before others.

We are called to be light in the world.  There are many people in the world who do not know Jesus Christ.  They might know some things about Him, but many people today do not know Jesus Christ personally.  They have not yet received that gift of personal faith.  We, who know Jesus, who have encountered Him in a real and intimate way, are called to make Him known.  We are called to defend our faith, to be sure, but we are called to even more than that: we are called to lead others to a personal relationship with Jesus.  We are called to bring others to the feet of the Lord; and that takes more than intellectual arguments.

The intellectual arguments are important, and we should all know the basic ones and we should be prepared to give reasons for the hope that we have in Jesus Christ, but to bring people to encounter Him, we also have to be ready and willing to share with others what God has done for us.  For many, today, experience is a more compelling witness than doctrinal arguments.  We have to show others, by the example of our lives, the difference that Jesus Christ has made to us.  If our relationship with Jesus Christ has not affected our lives, if encountering Christ has not changed us, then what draw is there for others?  If others know that we are Catholics, yet see that we live just as everyone else lives, they will not think much of our way of life.  The early Christians made others want to become Christians because non-Christians could see that knowing Jesus Christ made a difference in the lives of Christians: and the non-Christians wanted what the Christians had.

If others see that there is something different about the way that we live: if others see that we have the peace and joy that comes from really knowing God and serving Him faithfully, then they will want what we have.  We cannot put our light beneath a bushel basket: we are to let our light shine before the world.  We need to allow God to shine through us.  We are to bear witness to our relationship with God by the way that we live.

The Eucharist is the greatest gift that God has ever given to the human race.  God gives us many good things, but in the Eucharist, He gives us Himself.  He gives Himself to us in the Eucharist because He loves us so much, that He wants to be completely united to us.  And yet, He does not give us this great gift so that we can bury it in our hearts; He gives us Himself in Holy Communion so that we can take Him with us when we go back out into the world.  Through Holy Communion, Jesus wants to transform our hearts to more and more closely resemble His Sacred Heart.

The Sacred Heart of Jesus is depicted in art with a flame coming out of it.  That flame represents Jesus’ burning love for each one of you and for me.  Why a flame?  Fire is intense.  Fire completely consumes.  A candle gives us light and it continues to give us light until there isn’t anything left of the candle.  A candle will continue to burn until eventually it burns itself out.  The candle burns until there isn’t anything left to burn.  That is how Jesus loves us.  He loves us so much that He was willing to give us everything: He was completely stripped of all dignity for you and for me.  He was slapped and spit upon and mocked and stripped of His clothes and He bore it all because He loves you.  He suffered torture and death to show you how much God loves you.  He was chained and whipped and nailed to a Cross and pierced with a lance to save you from sin and death.  He poured out every last drop of His Precious Blood, He loved you with everything that He had to give.  There wasn’t anything more that He could do; there wasn’t anything more that He could give.  He gave everything because He loves you.

We, in turn are called to love Him in the same way.  God desires that we love Him with everything that we are; with everything that we have.  He wants us to love Him above everything else.  The greatest commandment, and the key to true happiness, is to love God with all of your mind, with all of your heart, with all of your strength.

If we live in that relationship of love with God, our lives will be transformed, others will notice, and they will want a relationship with God like we have.  By living out our faith in our daily lives others will be drawn to Jesus through us.  That is how we are to fulfill our mission as disciples of Jesus Christ.  Let us ask Our Lord to make us His witnesses in the world.  Lord Jesus Christ, in Holy Communion You give us Yourself as food for our souls.  Fill our hearts, Lord, with love for you; draw us closer to Yourself and help us to bear witness to You before everyone we meet.  Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, on fire with love for us, enflame our hearts with Your love.  Amen.

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