The Need for Constant Renewal

Here is my homily for Sunday, July 22nd.

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
Jeremiah 23:1-6
Ephesians 2:13-18
Mark 6:30-34
July 22, 2012

Once again the apostles gather with Jesus.  But this time their gathering takes on a different significance.  They are just returning from the mission that Jesus sent them out on.

To understand the significance of this we need to look back some.  Jesus began by drawing disciples to himself.  A big part of this was the miracles he performed.  He then preached to them.  

The point of all this was to teach the disciples what it truly meant to be disciples, what it truly means to follow the commandments not as a legal code but led by the Holy Spirit, believing in our hearts.

Jesus sought to give them a solid foundation of faith.

Only after giving them this foundation does he send them out on a mission to heal, drive out demons, and preach.  And only by Jesus’ authority do the Apostles do this.

I think it is essential that we also realize that the apostles did not just go out and keep going.  No, after a short time, they returned to Jesus.  They did not establish churches of their own or go on a missionary journey never to return.

When they do so he invites them to “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.”  He isn’t talking about a vacation.  It is more a retreat to rest, regroup, and renew with Jesus.  The apostles understood that they did not know everything.  They needed to keep returning to Jesus.

Of course, there is a lesson in all of this for us.  First, we need a solid foundation of faith to truly live as Christians.  That foundation begins with our parents sharing the faith with us.  The Church always recognizes parents as the primary teachers of their children but to continue to build the foundation, we come formally to learn about faith in one of two ways.  

For many, it means attended Catholic School such as our own Immaculate Conception School for pre-K through sixth grade.  (Incidentally, we still have openings if you would like to enroll your children.)  Even if you send your children to Catholic School you should be involved in their learning.  It is a fact that children learn best when their parents are involved in their education.  It could just be helping them with their homework.

For others, in the past it meant weekly religion classes either on Sunday or afterschool.  Our program (FAMBRE) for Kindergarten through fifth grade runs a little differently.  It means once a month with the whole family coming together with “homework” to work on in between. (Of course, there are also our middle school youth groups for 6th, 7th, & 8th graders, and Senior Youth Groups for 9-12th grade.

But I want to focus back on FAMBRE for a moment.  I said the whole family comes together.  One might be wondering why the adults would come.  

Number one – I already said children learn best when their parents are involved in their education.  We tend to think of our religious education ending before we become adults.  But in reality, just like the apostles who came back to Jesus, we need to keep coming back to learn more.  

The primary way we do this is by our coming to Mass.  We do not just learn about Jesus, receive our First Communion and go out into the world never to return.  No, we keep returning for the grace of the Eucharist and to hear God’s Word from Scripture broken open for us to help us deepen our relationship with Jesus.

The foundation begins with parents, continues with Catholic School or religious education.  But the learning/growing should never end.

Let us strive to become closer to Jesus.

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