11th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
June 18, 2023
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.





O God, strength of those who hope in you,
graciously hear our pleas,
and, since without you mortal frailty can do nothing,
grant us always the help of your grace,
that in following your commands
we may please you by our resolve and our deeds.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever. Amen. (RM)

Keep, O Lord, your household the Church in your steadfast
faith and love, that through your grace we may proclaim
your truth with boldness, and minister your justice with
compassion; for the sake of our Savior Jesus Christ, who
lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now
and for ever. Amen. (BCP)
Almighty God,
you have called us to serve you,
yet without your grace
we are unable to please you.
Mercifully grant that your Holy Spirit
may in all things direct and rule our hearts;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever. Amen. (BCW)

First Reading Ex 19:2-6a

In those days, the Israelites came to the desert of Sinai and pitched camp.
While Israel was encamped here in front of the mountain,
   Moses went up the mountain to God.
Then the LORD called to him and said,
   “Thus shall you say to the house of Jacob;
   tell the Israelites:
   You have seen for yourselves how I treated the Egyptians
   and how I bore you up on eagle wings
   and brought you here to myself.
Therefore, if you hearken to my voice and keep my covenant,
   you shall be my special possession,
   dearer to me than all other people,
   though all the earth is mine.
You shall be to me a kingdom of priests, a holy nation.”

Responsorial Psalm Ps 100:1-2, 3, 5

â„Ÿ. We are his people: the sheep of his flock.

Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;
   serve the LORD with gladness;
   come before him with joyful song.

Know that the LORD is God;
   he made us, his we are;
   his people, the flock he tends.

The LORD is good:
   his kindness endures forever,
   and his faithfulness to all generations.

Second Reading  Rom 5:6-11

Brothers and sisters:
Christ, while we were still helpless,
   yet died at the appointed time for the ungodly.
Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person,
   though perhaps for a good person
   one might even find courage to die.
But God proves his love for us
   in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.
How much more then, since we are now justified by his blood,
   will we be saved through him from the wrath.
Indeed, if, while we were enemies,
   we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son,
   how much more, once reconciled,
   will we be saved by his life.
Not only that,
   but we also boast of God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
   through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Gospel Acclamation

Gospel  Mt 9:36—10:8

Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and sent them out.

At the sight of the crowds, Jesus’ heart was moved with pity for them
   because they were troubled and abandoned,
   like sheep without a shepherd.
Then he said to his disciples,
   “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few;
   so ask the master of the harvest
   to send out laborers for his harvest.”

Then he summoned his twelve disciples
   and gave them authority over unclean spirits
   to drive them out and to cure every disease and every illness.
The names of the twelve apostles are these:
   first, Simon called Peter, and his brother Andrew;
   James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John;
   Philip and Bartholomew, Thomas and Matthew the tax collector;
   James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddeus;
   Simon from Cana, and Judas Iscariot who betrayed him.

Jesus sent out these twelve after instructing them thus,
   “Do not go into pagan territory or enter a Samaritan town.
Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’
Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons.
Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.”

Catena Nova

It was to save the disciples from the anxiety of such reasoning that the Lord called the gospel a harvest. It was almost as if he said: ‘Everything is ready, all is prepared. I am sending you to harvest the ripe grain. You will be able to sow and reap on the same day. You must be like the farmer who rejoices when he goes out to gather in his crops. He looks happy and is glad of heart. His hard work and many difficulties forgotten, he hurries out eagerly to reap their reward, hastening to collect his annual returns. Nothing stands in the way, there is no obstacle anywhere, nor any uncertainty regarding the future. There will be no heavy rain, no hail or drought, no devastating legions of locusts. And since the farmer at harvest time fears no such disasters, the reapers set to work dancing and leaping for joy. ‘You must be like them when you go out into the world – indeed your
joy must be very much greater. You also are to gather in a harvest – a harvest easily reaped, a harvest already there waiting for you. You have only to speak, not to labour. Lend me your tongue, and you will see the ripe grain gathered into the royal granary.’ And with this he sent them out, saying: Remember that I am with you always, until the end of the world.  (St John Chrysostom)
He needs you
That's all there is to it
Without you he's left hanging
Goes up in dachau's smoke
Is sugar and spice in the baker's hands
gets revalued in the next stock market crash
he's consumed and blown away
used up
without you
Help him
that's what faith is
he can't bring it about
his kingdom
couldn't then couldn't later can't now
not at any rate without you
and that is his irresistible appeal. (Dorothee Soelle)
True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice that produces beggars needs restructuring.  (Martin Luther King, Jr.)
Whenever I groan within myself and think how hard it is to keep writing about love in these times of tension and strife, which may at any moment become for us all a time of terror, I think to myself, "What else is the world interested in?" What else do we all want, each one of us, except to love and be loved, in our families, in our work, in all our relationships? God is love. Love casts out fear. Even the most ardent revolutionist, seeking to change the world, to overturn the tables of the money changers, is trying to make a world where it is easier for people to love, to stand in that relationship to each other. We want with all our hearts to love, to be loved. And not just in the family but to look upon all as our mothers, sisters, brothers, children. It is when we love the most intensely and most humanly that we can recognize how tepid is our love for others. The keenness and intensity of love brings with it suffering, of course, but joy too, because it is a foretaste of heaven.  (Dorothy Day)
Once we have heard God's Word, we no longer have the right not to accept it; once we have accepted it, we no longer have the right not to let it become flesh in us; once it has become flesh in us, we no longer have the right to keep it for ourselves alone. Henceforward, we belong to all those who are waiting for the Word. … The incarnation of God's Word in us, this allowing ourselves to be molded by it, is what we call witnessing. To take the Word of God seriously, we need all the strength of the Holy Spirit.  (Madeleine Delbrel)
So, let me now try to have a first go at telling the story of Christ in such a way as to give us an understanding of salvation which is purely gratuitous, without any element of retribution, and in which forgiveness is a divinely-initiated process lived out for us in our midst with a view to making us participants in something bigger than we are. I’m not going to try to tell the whole story, but just the central part, the crucifixion and resurrection, since it is they which enable us to advance in this conundrum. I take it that the resurrection is the making available to us of the crucifixion as the forgiveness of sins. In other words, it is a reaching into the hardest part of our hard-heartedness, where our involvement with death is most complete, in our tendency to hold on to life at the expense of victims, and think we are just to do so. By giving himself to that mechanism of ours, and there appears to be no human culture or society that we know of that is not dependent on it in some way, Jesus was allowing himself to lose to it. Now please note this. That what we have been taught so often to regard as a victory looked in fact for all the world like a defeat. It looked not as though Jesus conquered sin and death, but as though death, our human mechanism by which we are involved in death, conquered him. (James Alison)

Gospel preaching is born from gratuitousness, from wonder at salvation which comes; and what I have received freely I must give freely.  This is evident when Jesus sends out his Apostles with instructions for their mission. “His orders are very simple, do not provide yourselves with gold, or silver, or copper in your belts...”. It was a mission of salvation that consisted in healing the sick, raising the dead, cleansing lepers and chasing out demons. It was to bring people close to the kingdom of God, to give them the good news that the kingdom of God is at hand, indeed is already here. The key sentence in Christ’s instructions to his disciples is: “you received without pay, give without pay”. These words contain the full gratuitousness of salvation, because: “we cannot preach or proclaim the kingdom of God, without this inner certainty that it is all freely given, it is all grace”. And if we act without leaving room for grace, “the Gospel has no effectiveness”. Moreover various episodes in the life of the first Apostles testify that Gospel preaching is born from what is given freely. St Peter, had no bank account and when he had to pay taxes, the Lord sent him to fish in the sea to find in the fish the money to pay them. When an apostle does not give freely he also loses the ability to praise the Lord, for “praising the Lord is essentially gratuitous. It is prayer freely prayed... We do not only ask, we praise”; but when disciples “want to make a rich Church, a Church without freely given praise, she “ages, she becomes an NGO, she is lifeless.  (Pope Francis)


     Funny thing about blood.  It courses through your veins, bringing oxygen and nutrients to every cell in your body, giving you life and strength.  Yet, we hardly notice it.  Until we lose it: in surgery, or an accident, or like I did, from a burst blood vessel in my stomach when I was in seventh grade.  Then you know how much you need it — and I needed five pints!
     I’ve never forgotten that experience of weakness.  It was the summer of ‘69.  Neil Armstrong had just landed on the moon.  Watching him come down the ladder made your heart pound.  As he took that “small step for a man,” you could feel the “giant leap for [mankind]” surge within you.  Technology’s power seemed boundless.  Like a thirteen-year-old’s energy should.  You felt that anything was possible.
     It was also a summer sandwiched between the assassinations of ‘68 and the campus violence of the 70s: Kennedy, King, and Kent State.  A summer of triumph hemmed in by years of tragedy.  When the blood of prophets, patriots, and protestors flowed.  You felt helpless as you watched our national nightmare unfold.  The moon landing and the Vietnam war were symbols of a nations’s strength, and its weakness.  It was quite a backdrop for my own encounter with helplessness.  There was a day when I didn't have the strength to sit in a chair.  All because of that substance which, when lost, makes us helpless, and restored, strong.
     As theologian Karl Rahner once observed,
We human beings, one might say, by way of quasi-definition, are those strange creatures who perceive that they are finite and therefore unfree, who are prisoners of their finitude: unable to determine how long we shall live, unable to control the situation in which we find ourselves, prisoners of our limited knowledge, of the needs of our heart, of bodily sickness, of our environment, constantly exposed to death. Not only are we finite in all these ways; unlike other creatures, we know that we are finite and we feel ourselves oppressed and trapped by finitude. 
     Now bodily weakness is something we all face, sooner or later.  For most people, it comes with age though not always.  Then there's the helplessness we feel from circumstances over which we have no control: the daily atrocities in Ukraine, the endless gun violence and political upheavals in the United States, the steady erosion of the environment like the air quality last week many of us tasted — literally.   
     Of course, there's weakness of spirit too.  That’s something we meet early on.  You know, that struggle to meet standards and expectations beyond our strength.  Something like the Law of Moses was for the Israelites.  When they camped in the Sinai desert God made a deal with them: If you hearken to my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my special people, dearer to me than all other people (I).  Trouble is, they never managed to keep their end of the bargain.  The Law proved a burden beyond their strength.
     As it does for us at times.  Oh, we may, for the most part, meet the expectations set for us.  But, often enough, there’s something that always gets the best of us.  Maybe it’s a substance - like alcohol, nicotine, or food.  Addiction in its many forms.  Or maybe it’s some behavior that wreaks havoc in our lives - like gambling, lying, or sleeping around.  Compulsion comes in many forms.  Or maybe it’s some unchecked passion - like anger, envy or pride.  Unclean spirits in their many forms.  Things that make us feel troubled and abandoned (G), deserving God’s wrath, not God’s compassion.  Things which also leave us feeling helpless.
     But didn’t Paul just say Christ died for the ungodly while we were still helpless? (II)  When we couldn’t hold our heads up, much less soar on eagle wings (I).  Didn’t I hear him say we are justified by his blood? (II)  Not, then, by our works, or our striving, or our strength.  But by his blood.
     For we are powerless to please God by our own efforts.  Boasting of our strength will not do.  Nor will lamenting our weakness.  Our strength comes from another.  From someone who donated his blood for us.  To restore our strength, and save us by his life (II).  We did not deserve this mercy.  It’s pure grace.  We receive it without cost (G).
     People in recovery programs know this very well.  The first step in dealing with an addiction is to admit one's powerlessness over it. To rely on one's own strength is doomed to failure.  To overcome an addiction or a compulsion, ac­knowledging dependence on a higher power is the key.  And for Christians, that higher power is the blood of Jesus.  God allows us our weaknesses, I think, to impress this fact upon us.  Without those weaknesses, troublesome as they are, we might forget the real Source of our strength: the transfusion of strength we have through Jesus’s blood.
     That’s why I’m grateful for my experience of weakness.  Beginning with the need for someone else’s blood when I was thirteen years old.  That helped me later in life to acknowledge I was helpless over many things.  And that righteousness is given by God, not earned.  Given in our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (II)  Given in the cup we bless at the eucharist.  To God then, who gives food and drink, for body and spirit, who renews our strength like the eagle’s, be glory now and forever.  Amen.
Intercessions (Peter Scagnelli)
For the disciples of Jesus, for the house of Israel, for the children of Islam, all of us dear to God: may goodwill and mutual respect grow among us
For all who labor to negotiate international covenants of peace: may God bless every effort to cast out the spirit of conflict. 
For all who are sent out as missionaries in the Lords harvest: May they proclaim the good news in words of power and works of mercy. 
For those engaged in medical research and scientific technology: may their discoveries lessen human suffering. 
For social justice ministries that continue the mission of the good shepherd: may Christians work to make all civil structures serve the needy. 
For those who struggle with any disease or sickness: may they experience in our concern the compassion that filled the heart of Jesus.
Compassionate God,
your word calls labourers to the harvest.
Send us who are blest with the gift of your kingdom
to announce its coming with gladness
and to manifest its healing power.
We make our prayer through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever. Amen. (ICEL; 1998)

Offertory Chant

Offertory Hymn

O Jesus, I have promised to serve Thee to the end;
Be Thou forever near me, my Master and my Friend;
I shall not fear the battle if Thou art by my side,
Nor wander from the pathway if Thou wilt be my Guide.

O let me feel Thee near me! The world is ever near;
I see the sights that dazzle, the tempting sounds I hear;
My foes are ever near me, around me and within;
But Jesus, draw Thou nearer, and shield my soul from sin.

O let me hear Thee speaking in accents clear and still,
Above the storms of passion, the murmurs of self will.
O speak to reassure me, to hasten or control;
O speak, and make me listen, Thou Guardian of my soul.

O Jesus, Thou hast promised to all who follow Thee
That where Thou art in glory there shall Thy servant be.
And Jesus, I have promised to serve Thee to the end;
O give me grace to follow, my Master and my Friend.

O let me see Thy footprints, and in them plant mine own;
My hope to follow duly is in Thy strength alone.
O guide me, call me, draw me, uphold me to the end;
And then in Heaven receive me, my Saviour and my Friend.

Communion Chant

Closing Hymn
Will you give me your life for ever?
Will you carry my cross ev'ry day?
Will you walk in the light of my presence?
Will you follow the truth of my ways.
Will you love me as I have loved you?
Will you live with me the darkness as I die?
For the moon and the stars will be gone like the night,
and the sun will be shining on you.
Like the purest of gold in the furnace,
is your love strong enough to endure?
Does your faith carry on through the shadows?
Does it shine in the night for the world?
Will you love me as I have loved you?
Will you live with me the darkness as I die?
For the moon and the stars will be gone like the night,
and the sun will be shining on you.
Can you walk in the footprints of silence,
through the wilderness sands in the sun,
from the desert of doubt and temptation,
to the glorious mountain of fire?
Will you love me as I have loved you?
Will you live with me the darkness as I die?
For the moon and the stars will be gone like the night,
and the sun will be shining on you.