11th Sunday Ordinary Time A

Q. 323: I don’t feel that I have received any “special” gifts. So how does Jesus’ command to his disciples apply to me, “The gift you have received, give as a gift” (Matt 10:8)?

On the contrary, every Christian living has been given special gifts. Usually we are so familiar with them that we “take them for granted.” The context is this: God is calling each person to “wholeness” of body, soul and spirit, and your individual gifts help others move towards this wholeness.

For example, what are your special hobbies or creative interests? Do you like to sew, repair or fix things, paint, cook, read, write, garden, do crafts? Your gifts – both natural and spiritual – are displayed in many ways. Using them properly will bring you satisfaction. More importantly, they were given to you to be used to help others in some way. Do you make yourself available to read to the homebound or elderly, in a nursing home setting? Can you cook something for a sick or elderly neighbor or parishioner? Do you share the harvest of your garden? Can you ask an elderly couple if they need something repaired in their home? Do you pray for the specific needs of specific people every single day? Ever mow someone’s lawn out of love? Are you involved in a church ministry?

It is your display of outreaching love, of compassionate selflessness, that will register in the minds and hearts of others. This is the mission of the Church, to “be” Christ for others, to ease their burdens by sharing your gifts with them. They will recognize the Christ in you, and this recognition will contribute to their own journey to wholeness.

KNOW YOUR CATECHISM! The key is to remember that ALL that you have is gift, and the source is God — not just material things, but natural talents and spiritual gifts as well (CCC #2121). Even material abundance must be shared lovingly and willingly (CCC #2443). Do you see how stewardship of your gifts relates to the 7th Commandment (CCC #2401)?

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Q480: What does the gospel’s (Matt 9:36-10:8) mandate of healing, preaching, contact with the sick and dead have to do with me?

Who, Why, and Therefore. Those are three words that could guide us in every meditation on every day’s readings from holy scripture. “Who” are the characters? “Why” is Jesus speaking to them? “Therefore,” what has that got to do with me?

Who? Today Jesus is addressing his disciples, and is observing an approaching crowd.

Why is he speaking to the apostles? He is commenting on both the lack of true leadership (the crowd was troubled, abandoned, without a true shepherd), and the need for more disciples or “harvest workers.”

He responds to his own observation by preparing the apostles to continue his own mission of healing and preaching. Notice that the apostles are sent to the people that society marginalizes. That process of exclusion gives society “permission” to ignore their very existence. For example, anyone who was sick or had a disease of any kind was probably “ritually unclean” and therefore avoided. Lepers? “Don’t even think about it” would be the reaction of the more fortunate. Contact with the “dead” would also make one “ritually unclean,” and therefore another category to avoid. Yes, these folks had indeed been “abandoned” by the religious leaders and their religious rules (i.e., those that came from the “tradition of the elders” – regulations not in the Torah but imposed as “oral Torah” by the rabbis without regard for the dignity of the person).

Therefore, what has that to do with me? Jesus was moved with compassion for the marginalized, and immediately enlisted the help of his apostles to spread the “good news” about the kingdom. He asked all of his disciples to “pray for more laborers for the harvest.” That is my cue. As a baptized Catholic, my role is to participate in Jesus’ mission by using the gifts he gave me to help the marginalized in my own society. These gifts will be my time, talent, and treasure — I am to give back freely what I have received. All of us share in the common priesthood of Christ; only some are given the gift of ministerial priesthood. But all work towards the same goal: proclaiming the kingdom by words and acts of love.

KNOW YOUR CATECHISM! The Church believes in the healing, life-giving presence of Christ, especially active through the sacraments (CCC #1509). God blesses those who come to the aid of the poor (CCC #2443).

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