Meditation of Archbishop Pizzaballa: 15th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B

Meditation of Archbishop Pizzaballa: 15th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B

Following is the meditation of the Most Rev. Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, for the 15th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B, July 15, 2018:

“Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” are words of the Gospel of John (14:9) summarizing the style of the mission of Jesus in the midst of men. Words that say Jesus came not to announce Himself, in bringing a message to all – no matter how new, nice and interesting – centered on His person. Jesus came to bring men something “more” than Himself: He brought the Father.

How was He able to do this?

Jesus is so united to Him, is so much in relationship with the Father, so obedient and living in His life, that anyone who has seen Him has not only seen Jesus: He has seen the love of the Father, His tenderness, His mercy; he has encountered His Kingdom, the Kingdom that is made near (Mk 1:15).

If Jesus had not come, man would have been able to build his own idea of God, more or less close to the truth: but could never encounter Him. In Jesus, instead, God is made One Who can be encountered.

This premise helps us to enter the passage of today’s Gospel.

Jesus sends His disciples on a mission, and therefore to do exactly what He did: to make the Father accessible, to bring His Kingdom everywhere.

Mark has already told us about their call: in Mk 3:13 it is written that Jesus goes up a mountain, calls His disciples to Himself, forms a group of twelve. And He does this for two reasons: first, that the disciples may be with Him, and second, that they go to preach, with the power to expel evil.

This dynamic of staying and then going is the heart of the Christian life.

The disciple is with the Lord, lives in intimacy and with knowledge of Him. Not a superficial knowledge, such as that of Nazarenes that we saw last Sunday; but an “existential” knowledge, that happens in the life of those who have been saved, who have learned in their wounds that they can put their hope in the Lord. So then, when he is sent to preach to others the Gospel, the disciple not bring himself, but brings Him, brings the relationship that makes him live: whoever sees the disciple, in some way sees something of the Lord who sent him.

A disciple who lives only the first gesture would make no sense of staying with the Lord. Unlike other religious or philosophical schools, the aim of the follower of Christ does not lead to the safety of the master’s house, does not end in the relationship with him. On the contrary, it opens the way to sending, to the other, to the world, and so to insecurity and danger.

But neither would the life of a disciple who lives only the second gesture make sense: he who departs without first “having stayed”, without having his heart turned to the Lord, brings only himself, and does not save anyone, because he is not clothed in the same authority of the Lord.

Therefore, whoever chooses to announce the Lord exposes himself to difficult trials, insecurities, misunderstandings.

He must not do anything to seek these, but he must not do anything to avoid them; for this reason, the only instructions that Jesus hastens to give to His disciples pertains to what they must not bring, that which they do not need: since they live in relationship with Him, they do need nothing else. Jesus leaves them in a situation of uncertainty so that going they can first experience the Providence that accompanies them.

Interestingly, in this regard, according to different exegetes, with today’s passage starts a section of the gospel of Mark’s called “the loaves”; so called because the theme of bread will return several times in the course of these chapters. And the first time it appears right here, in dispatching them on the mission, and it appears as absent, as something that the disciples should not take with them; in the course of the following chapters, bread is abundant, and Jesus will multiply twice, and He will do it for all, Jews and pagans. Whoever leaves without bread, discovers that this bread will not be wanting, like the refuge and help of the Lord will never be wanting.

The disciples will thus be able to announce that God, made near in Jesus, is a God who provides, a God who makes Himself bread. And they will not do it only in words, but with the same attitude of need and precariousness, an attitude that, alone, speaks of the One in whom they have placed confidence.

Then the instructions of Jesus on not bringing bread, bag, money, are not simply an ascetic tactic, nor a choice of poverty. They are the natural and consequent style of those who entrust themselves to the Lord, and therefore do not seek in every way possible to secure life for themselves: they receive it.

They receive it from the Father, but they also receive it from those who receive their announcement, who will welcome them in homes and share bread with them: it will be in this mutual sharing of life that the announcement of the gospel can be fulfilled.

Finally, the disciples are sent two by two: because the missionary is not a solitary hero, but a man of communion. And the proclamation of the Kingdom is not an individualistic, but fraternal and communal act, in witness of the new life that does not exist except in communion.

+ Pierbattista

Wed, 06/27/2018 - 17:34
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