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Homilies - Bishop Brendan Leahy

Fifteenth Sunday. Year B  - St. Lelia's Church


When Jesus sent the apostles out two by two he was unleashing a revolution in the world. Jesus, who is the Son of God, could have brought about that revolution all on his own. God is all powerful. But rather he chose to involve his apostles. He chose to need help. He chose to bring about a new world not on his own but together with them.

The episode two thousand years ago isn’t just about then. Jesus still chooses to need each one of us for his mission. Each one of us is, in fact, an apostle. The word “apostle” means, “a person who is sent”.

We might think apostles are super people, specially chosen; I couldn’t see myself as an apostle. But that’s not true. Jesus of Nazareth meets your family, your road, your friends and neighbours or work colleagues, through you.

And that’s true for every baptised person. The Second Reading puts this really powerfully. God has an overall plan to unite the world in Christ. He is working all the time to bring about that plan. And each of us is involved. Remember the famous words of Saint John Henry Cardinal Newman who visited Limerick:

God created me to do him some definite service;
he has committed some work to me which he has not committed to another.
 I have my mission - I may never know it in this life,
but I shall be told it in the next... Therefore, I will trust him...

If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve him;
in perplexity, my perplexity may serve him;
if I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve him...
He does nothing in vain; he may prolong my life,
he may shorten it, he knows what he is about.

There are times we can feel a little discouraged or not up to it. Poor Amos, the prophet we read about in the First Reading, tells of how he was a simple shepherd but ended up called to be a prophet. And then he was rejected! The apostles too were rejected but they kept going no matter what difficulties came their way. They kept going believing in God, pouring out the love of God towards others and speaking out fearlessly the message they had to communicate.

In God’s plan, each of us is called not only to be an apostle that speaks. Each single life is a message from God. Tagore, the Indian writer, wrote that each child is “a message that God has not yet got tired of us.” None of us knows how life will turn out but one thing is sure, our life, is a message from God for those around me.

I remember meeting a group of young and old, disabled and abled, who live together in community. It was very moving to see them together. One of them, Jillian, was particularly disabled. But one of the others said to me: “God made all things good … there is no such thing as disabilities…we have all been created in the image of God...Jillian is a gift, no one is a mistake.…”

That’s the point. God has a plan for each of us no matter what we might think of ourselves. We have been made as a gift for one another. And everything about our lives—good, bad and indifferent—is part of that gift for others. We can remember the words St John Paul said to young people: “Don’t just drift along. Take a hold of your life and decide to make it a personal and real masterpiece.”

We aren’t apostles on our own. We are told the first apostles went out “two by two”. That is, they helped each other. Not only that, it is by being together they could give witness to the love for one another that Jesus had preached. That’s why Christians try to meet up each week for Mass.

One final point. Let’s pray for the virtue of hope in our lives to keep on going, even when there is adversity. A French writer, Paul Claudel, once wrote that faith, hope and love are like three sisters. Faith and Love are the big sisters and hope is the little sister. But without the little sister, the big sisters would grow old. We need hope to keep us enthusiastic about our Christian faith. We need hope to keep on loving. We need hope to believe God has a plan for me and that I can make a difference in this world.