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    St. Mary's Parish
    211 Avenue O South
    Saskatoon, SK
    S7M 2R6

    Phone: 306 244 2983
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12th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) contain what many refer to as the “passion predictions.” In each case, Jesus shares with his disciples the fate that awaits him in Jerusalem. This fate awaits Jesus because he continues to be faithful to God’s will, which is to be the face of compassion and inclusivity to all whom he encounters. In doing this, he is the perfect image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15). Most often the disciples are resistant to the idea of Jesus’ suffering and death. They are, of course, anticipating a different kind of messiah—one who will overthrow the political forces of the day (Rome) and re-establish the Kingdom of Israel.

In light of these expectations, Jesus tries to help the disciples to understand that his suffering and death do not destroy the messianic credentials that the disciples hold.  Indeed, Jesus uses these occasions to teach the disciples about what it means to follow him. He usually does this in the form of a paradox—a seeming contradiction. In today’s gospel we are told that we must take up our cross daily for “whoever wants to save their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will save it.” In other places in the gospels, Jesus will relate other paradoxes about discipleship to the prediction of his suffering and death: “If you want to be first, then you must be last” and “If you want to be the greatest, then you need to be the servant of all.” Each of these paradoxes is suggesting that the way people usually see is like human beings see, and not like God sees.

Ordinarily, we might think that “losing ourselves” or becoming “the least” or becoming “the servant of all” would lead to our diminishment. However, Jesus maintains that this way of discipleship will actually lead to the fullness of life. In this new way of viewing reality, we actually come to the fullness of life not by “filling up” ourselves, but by “emptying” ourselves. To embrace this way of seeing, we must let go of our old views that have been shaped by many experiences of valuing life in terms of what I get instead of what I give. Embracing this new way of seeing, and letting go of the old way of seeing, can be best described as conversion to God and God’s ways.

The second reading is a practical application of seeing as God sees and not like human beings see. In the new family inaugurated by Jesus, there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile, male and female, slave and free—for we are all one in the body of Christ. This means, again, that we need to let go of ways that we view the world—shaped over time by many experiences—that have taught that we best relate to each other in terms of competition, comparison, and rivalry, which can lead to the marginalization of others and enmity toward them. Paul reminds the Galatians that Jesus has established a new family where we are all brothers and sisters and that the old ways of relating are ended once one is baptized into the new life of Christ.

In light of the New Testament, the first reading is seen by many commentators as an allusion to suffering and death of Christ. Like the death of the particular person that the text refers to—possibilities include a charismatic prophet or the beloved King Josiah—the death of Jesus leads to a change in status from sin and uncleanness to purity and wholesomeness. In other words, the spirit of grace will lead the people to a conversion of heart that aligns them with God and God’s way of seeing.

Fr. James M Donohue, C.R.


06 – June 19, 2016



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