July 11, 2021 – 15th Sunday Ordinary Time

Sunday Readings: Amos 7.12-15; Ephesians 1.2-14; Mark 6.7-13

Jesus called the twelve, began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits . . . So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. They cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.” – Mark 6.7, 13

In this gospel the twelve perform three actions that cultivate Christian community. First, they preach. Their message is to repent, to turn afresh toward God, and open our hearts to the Spirit’s purposes for us.

Second, Jesus’ disciples cast out demons. Today psychology helps us name the demons of the human spirit, the destructive drives and addictions that keep us from possessing ourselves, that erode our capacity to love and keep faith. In Jesus’ time these demons probably also included mental illnesses. Jesus’ mission aims to free people to love and listen, to value one another, and care for one another in community.

Third, the twelve anoint and heal the sick as Jesus did. Oil soothes and salves. In anointing and attending to the sick, Jesus’ disciples in his time and we today keep people connected to the community, in its weave where people share their burdens, pain, and joy. Simple listening to their stories can help people in anxious economic situations. Listening can open up ways to help.

We continue Jesus’ mission in our time just as the twelve do in Sunday’s gospel. We can testify to God’s presence in our lives. We can participate in helping friends and family members free their capacity to love from too much work or drink, or too little voice or purpose. We can attend the sick.

Who have you helped through listening? How have you helped people stay connected during the pandemic?