GOSPEL, FIRST READING & PSALM TRANSCRIPT (Subscribe or Login for Full Transcript):
The 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time for Year B picks up immediately after the rejection of Jesus by the people of his hometown, and this story is about the call of the 12 apostles. It’s a brief episode from Mark's gospel, but obviously a very important one, with regard to the question of did Jesus found the church and what was the structures of authority that he gave to the community of disciples that he was going to leave in his wake after his passion, death, resurrection and ascension. So let’s look at this passage with the apostolic origins of the church and the structure of the church in mind. Mark 6:7 says this:
And he called to him the twelve, and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics. And he said to them, "Where you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. And if any place will not receive you and they refuse to hear you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet for a testimony against them." So they went out and preached that men should repent. And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many that were sick and healed them.
Okay, so there are a number of aspects of this brief text that are worth highlighting. First, number one, the idea of vocation. Notice that it does not say that the 12 apostles chose Jesus but that he called them, that he chose them. So from the very beginning he is the one who initiates that call for them to become men who are set apart for his particular mission. So we have the kind of idea of the call of the 12 apostles here; that will be expressed in John's gospel in a different setting when he'll say to the apostles, “you did not choose me but I chose you,” right, the idea of an election, that God through Christ chooses them from all time to have this special mission, that’s the first point.
The second point is...
SECOND READING TRANSCRIPT (Subscribe or Login for Full Transcript):
What can we draw from this? How has this verse been interpreted in the living tradition? Well, for this, I would actually turn your attention not to the Church Fathers but to the most recent ecumenical council that the Church has had, commonly known as Vatican II — the Second Vatican Council in 1962-1965. I wasn’t alive yet, so those of you who might remember it, this was a momentous occasion in the history of the Church. There have only been 21 ecumenical councils in the two thousand years of the Church. And Vatican II produced some of the longest and most extensive documents in the history of the ecumenical councils.
So I’ve got a copy here of the Second Vatican Council. It’s not actually as long as this appears. This edition has the major documents of the council — the 16 major documents — but also some other documents of the Vatican in curial offices and popes’ encyclicals and stuff like that. So it’s not as daunting as all this.
But in the most important of the Vatican II documents, Lumen Gentium
, which is the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, the Church devoted an entire dogmatic constitution just to the mystery of the Church. And this was really a first in the history of the Church, to have an ecumenical council address the theology of: What is the Church? What does it mean to belong to the Church? What is the mystery of the Church? And in the first chapter of Lumen Gentium
, which is the Latin name of the Dogmatic Constitution — it means a light to the nations — Vatican II used Ephesians 1 to help us understand exactly what is the Church.
And I’m going to read this to you, but I want you to listen to it and I want you to think here and ask yourself, “Is this how I
think of the Church?” Because lots of us have lots of different ideas and lots of different things that we mean when we speak of “the Church.” For some people, the Church is the parish that I grew up in. For other people, the Church is the diocese to which I belong. For still other people, the Church, we will … sometimes Catholics in particular will use the word Church to refer to just the Magisterium. “The Church” says this, “the Church” says that. What you mean is the pope and the bishops — that’s the Church.
According to Vatican II though, there is some truth, obviously, to all those, but listen to how Vatican II describes the essence of the Church using the letter to the Ephesians:
The Son, accordingly, came, sent by the Father who, before the foundation of the world, chose us and predestined us in him for adoptive sonship.
Notice that — predestination is a Catholic doctrine. I deal with that in another video, but just notice it.For it is in him that it pleased the Father to restore all things
(cf. Eph. 1:4–5 and 10). To carry out the will of the Father Christ inaugurated the kingdom of heaven on earth and revealed to us his mystery
; by his obedience he brought about our redemption. The Church—that is, the kingdom of Christ already present in mystery—grows visibly through the power of God in the world
And then it skips down:
All men are called to this union with Christ, who is the light of the world, from whom we go forth, through whom we live, and towards whom our whole life is directed.
So why did I read that? What stands out to me? Well, what stands out to me in that verse is this. According to Vatican II, following Ephesians 1, the Church in its essence is not primarily the earthly institution, the Vatican curial offices, your local parish, the diocese … whatever it might be. In its essence, the Church is:
... the kingdom of Christ already present in mystery …
… on Earth. So what is it saying here? What is the Church? In essence, the Church is the heavenly kingdom of Christ, which is already fulfilled through His passion, death, resurrection, and ascension, which is present on Earth in mystery — through the mystery of all those who belong to the Church in this earthly realm.
Now why is that so important? It’s because, I think, for most of us, at least for myself, for many years, I tend to have it backwards. I tend to think of the Church primarily as an earthly institution that will eventually end up in Heaven. But according to Vatican II and following Ephesians 1, in its essence, the Church is the heavenly kingdom of Christ, which is now spreading throughout the Earth and is only present on the Earth in mystery
In other words, when we look at the Church on Earth, it doesn’t look
like the kingdom of Heaven. There’s a mysterious element to the Church. I’m trying to think of an analogy … oh, I’ve got one.
It’s kind of like a field, where there are weeds and wheat planted together. Just stay with me here for a second. And the weeds grow up along with the wheat so that you can’t see and distinguish the good wheat from the bad weeds, right? That’s how the kingdom of Heaven is, according to Jesus in the Gospels, and that parable is a precise illumination of the mystery of the Church. In Her essence, the Church is a heavenly reality. It’s the kingdom of Heaven over which Christ reigns right now in glory. But that heavenly kingdom — which consists of Christ, the Blessed Mother, the angels, the saints, they’re all part of the heavenly kingdom — exists on Earth now, according to Vatican II. It is present on Earth now but it’s present in mystery
In other words, the weeds and the wheat are still together. Saints and sinners are still blended with one another. You can’t quite see or distinguish … it won’t be clear until the final judgment who the weeds are and who the wheat is. And yet it is a visible reality present in this world but in mystery.
And so many of the parables of Jesus are precisely designed to usher us into the mystery of the Church and help us to understand that in God’s plan, to unite all things in Heaven and things on Earth, the Church plays the central role. The Church plays the central role. The Church is the heart of that mystery, because it’s precisely in the Church — which as we’ll go on to see in Ephesians, who is the bride of Christ — that humanity is united to Christ and united to God through the Mystical Body of Christ.
For full access subscribe here >