St. John Fisher Roman Catholic Church

30 Jones Hollow Road, Marlborough, CT 06447

15th Sunday in Ordinary Time B21

In both the 1st reading and the Gospel, we encounter people chosen, empowered, and sent out by God.  Amos, who resided in Judah and was a lowly shepherd and augmented his income by preparing the fruit of sycamore trees, is sent to the northern kingdom of Israel where he doesn’t get a warm welcome. The Apostles also came from working backgrounds or from occupations that were looked down upon by the elite.  Like Amos they were entrusted with a somewhat similar message of repentance. Like Amos, they too would face rejection.

Whatever else these two readings have, they certainly deal with a transfer of power: God to Amos who will speak in God’s name and the Father to the Son who hands over his power to the disciples. Now we, the Church, have been chosen by God through Jesus Christ.  Authority has come down to us. What will we do with this power? How will exercise this authority? If our power as modern-day disciples has truly come to us from God, then its potential is great, but so is the temptation to become overly attached to it. If we use it to browbeat others into submission or coerce others to follow a rigid system of rules, regulations and doctrinal prescriptions, then we are dishonoring the spirit with which Jesus gave power and authority, i.e. to bring healing to those who are suffering, not increasing it.

Recently there has been a brouhaha in the Bishops Conference about the Eucharist and who is worthy, or rather unworthy, to receive it. I got news for every one: no one is worthy! We confess that fact at every Mass when just before communion we say, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof”. The Eucharist we receive, the Body and Blood of Jesus, is a supreme gift to us, not so much a reward for good behavior but to support and encourage us as we attempt to lead lives of holiness. The Eucharist is called “communion”, i.e. “union with”, union with God and each other and not “disunion”, separating us and causing more divisions in our Church and country.

As a priest I agree with the statement of the former Oregon Jesuit provincial Fr. John Whitney: “It is not your table (nor mine). Bishops, priests, etc. are neither the hosts nor the bouncers[1] nor the ones who wrote the guest list.” He goes on to say it is Jesus Christ “who invites the guests (‘all you labor’); he is the host of those who come; he is the setter of the table; and he is the feast which is shared (‘Take this, all of you … this is my body, this is my blood’). We are guests at the meal, and sometimes (by his calling) also servers.”[2]

“Good evening (morning).  I will be your server at today’s banquet of the Lord. Have you made up your mind or do you need more time.”

 

[1] My emphasis.

[2] As quoted in the National Catholic Reporter, Editorials, p. 20, Vol. 57, No 20, July 9-22, 2021.

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