Reflection for Wednesday September 25, 2019: 25th Week in Ordinary Time.

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Burke-Sullivan, Eileen
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|The Feast of the Holy Cross each year (September 14) falls close to the Fall Equinox and the continued movement into the rapidly waning light in the Northern Hemisphere.  Now there are now more hours of darkness and the agrarian world is entering the time of harvest.  This natural context in the world in which the liturgical calendar developed through many centuries provides a deep sub-text for the Church's prayer in the final months of the year.   The Readings from both the Sunday and daily lectionaries during this period draw on the closing weeks or months of the mission period of Jesus, leading up to his passion and death.  The readings also challenge each and all Christians to face claim and practice their purpose – which is to provide fruit.  The chosen liturgical texts invite us to ponder our accountability for our actions and our failures to act – challenging us to be clearer about what God desires of us.|Part of this liturgical focus of the ending of Jesus' work is also on the handing over of his labor to those he has chosen to succeed and carry on his mission of salvation.  Those chosen are guided, disciplined, into the mission of proclaiming God's saving love.  In today's Gospel we hear Jesus instructing his disciples into a kind of internship. Here they are given his authority over illness and evil, based on the level of trust in God they exercise, to effectively move through the cities and towns of the region proclaiming the good news, and manifesting its effects through healings and reconciliations.|This internship under Jesus' direct supervision is the necessary ecclesial method for those who are called to preach and heal.  The trust they have is manifest in their lack of concern for the "daily bread" of food, water, shelter and clothing.   Such trust assumes that God will provide for them the material goods they need to be effective in disclosing God's Reign in the world. |We know from history that when Christians do not trust in God they are driven by their own need or greed to choices that HIDE the Kingdom of God rather than disclosing it.  When the Church, most particularly its visible leaders, fail to live the genuine trust at the heart of poverty of spirit, then concern about possessions instead of the work of the Gospel causes the Church to fail in its mission of proclaiming God's mercy.  Even the baptized can not hear the truth of mercy because those entrusted with proclaiming it don't believe or practice it. |This points back to the choice of the short passage from the Book of Ezra that serves as the first reading today.  The priest, Ezra is responsible for restoring the Mosaic and Davidic Law to the people of Israel, both those returning and the people of the land who were not taken away.  The exiles returned to find the poorer members of the community, mostly poor farmers, greatly influenced by the cultural pagan values around them.  In his zeal for God's plan as he understands it, Ezra weeps in grief over the corporate breach in the Covenant the community's behavior indicates and proclaims.  Like Moses in the Exodus, Ezra realizes that salvation comes from God's mercy, but God gives trusting disciples the capacity to accomplish His work of salvation.|Today's liturgy should serve as a good challenge to all of us that are concerned about rebuilding God's Church to a faithful voice of mercy and reconciliation in a very broken world.  We will never be effective if we don't pay attention to the "internship" in ministry that Jesus put his disciples through.  Trusting in God is the essential energy that proclaiming the Kingdom flows from – and all the Baptized are called to exercise the discipleship of proclamation and healing.
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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