Fr. McNeeley’s Homily – 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time – Fr. Bill McNeeley
July 7, 2019 – 11:00AM

Audio Recording:

We all live in a bubble of our own making. I say that because the bubble represents our circle of friends and acquaintances. Our families, our vocations, and our neighbors as well as what we read, look at and everything that influences us makes our own little bubbles into what they are. The other day I saw an interview with the comedian Jay Leno who is talking about how people in Hollywood really do live in a bubble. Some years ago, when he was on the tonight show during a commercial break he was talking to a movie star who has Jay’s Recommendation for a new car since he is such is an auto enthusiast. Jay said since you’re kind of tall do you want something with a little leg room which looks and drives well. I’d recommend a Ferrari he said. His guest said yeah, but everybody has a Ferrari. Jay said you really need to get out of this town from time to time.

Hollywood is a bubble, and Washington DC is definitely in a bubble. The truth is, however, we are in a bubble of our own making. We are not physical creatures having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a physical experience that we call life. Sometimes life is good, and sometimes it’s heartbreaking, but through faith in Jesus Christ and by following in his holy footsteps, life can still be good, even amidst the ups and downs of everyday life.

The first reading contains the prophet Isaiah’s closing oracles, which celebrates the wonderful transformation brought about by God’s grace for a weary people. Previously they had been burdened by the decisions of King Ahaz to put his personal agenda over service to God, which led to the collapse of Judah. The people too suffered from their own sin and pride, which also contributed to their downfall.
But now the people of God are wiser, and they are ready and willing to respond to God’s grace; they last understand their real purpose in this world is to put God’s interest first. The joyful tone of this reading is clearly exhibited in the repeated invitation for Jerusalem’s mourners to sing with Joy about her restoration.

The context for today’s gospel is Luke’s description of Jesus’s final journey to Jerusalem. One very significant aspect of this journey is that Jesus uses it to instruct his disciples regarding discipleship. In a very real sense, this passage is a catechism on discipleship. The 72 were sent out in pairs providing safety as well as qualification as official witnesses. They were extensions of Jesus’ own ministry of restoring and proclaiming the Kingdom of God. There is an urgency about this mission. The time is right, and the people seem ready, so the disciples must seize the moment.

Only by going out into the world and moving beyond our bubble and our comfort zone can we experience the true joy of serving God and our neighbor. By undertaking this mission, we get out of our bubble and experiencing the joy that comes with serving as vessels of God’s grace to a suffering world. Like the 72 we must learn to trust God and let him worry about the results.

As we go about proclaiming the good news in the mission field of our lives we to must be restored and renewed from time to time. We need reconciliation and restoration to God and our neighbor. Periodically all of us collectively and individually must come back to the basics list we go too far astray. We need that, our Church needs that, and God knows our country needs that.