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15TH SUNDAY - July 14, 2024

Amos 7: 12-15; Psalm 85: 9-14;
Ephesians 1: 3-14; Mark 6: 7-13

by Jude Siciliano, OP


Dear Preachers:




I am grateful to those of you who have responded to our Summer Appeal. There is still an opportunity to donate.

Please send tax deductible contributions to Fr. Jude Siciliano, O.P.:

St. Albert Priory, 3150 Vince Hagan Drive, Irving, Texas 75062-4736

Make checks payable to: Dominican Friars.


Or, go to our webpage to make an online donation:

Thanks again.
Fr. Jude

Amos sounds like a reluctant prophet in today’s first reading. And who can blame him? Being a prophet, even on a small scale, is a challenging profession. Have you ever tried telling someone sitting across the dinner table, or at the next desk in your office, or on your softball team, that their actions are unjust? If you have then you have an insight into Amos’ situation today.

Amos lived in the eighth century BCE. He was from Judah, the “southern kingdom.” He challenged the religious and political rulers in Israel, the “northern kingdom.” Judah was being taxed with heavy burdens by Israel. So Amos, a shepherd in Judah, was called by God to go north to Bethel, an important place of worship and prophesy against Israel’s abuses of the poor. This shepherd became a fiery preacher who predicted the destruction of Bethel. Obviously, God was at work in this shepherd, now prophet, from the hill country.

Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, challenges Amos telling him he is not welcome in Israel suggesting that Amos was a traitor. The prophet had preached against Israel’s injustices against the poor. He also challenged Israel’s empty worship practices. Amos warned that the whole nation would be destroyed. He called the people to acknowledge the rule of God in their lives. His preaching anticipates the reign of God Jesus proclaimed in his healings and his message. In today’s gospel Jesus commissions his disciples to be prophets and anticipates that, like Amos, they will be rejected because of their message – his message.

We people of faith need to attend to the voice of the prophets, even when, as with Amos, they confront us on our worship of false gods: wealth, militarism, power, oppression, etc. Prophets speak a word from God, not only challenging our idolatry, but also promising a security based on divine justice, that leads to showing mercy to all.

The Responsorial Psalm prays to hear what God has to say. The people seem to be in distress and have already made an appeal to God. They are now doing what we do when we have laid out our case to God; they are waiting for a response. If that describes our current situation, praying the Psalm will help us as we wait with our questions, doubt, or inpatience. The Psalm expresses trust that God will respond to us: “The Lord will give his benefits, our land shall yield its increase.”

Speaking of prophets: the gospel narrates Jesus sending his disciples on a missionary journey. They have followed him up to this point and this will be their first preaching mission. Relying on their own powers and abilities will only end in failure. They are simple farmers, fishers, tradespeople – hardly gifted preachers. Jesus tells them to put aside the “essentials” such a task would ordinarily require.

These missionaries are going to deal with “unclean spirits.” Fill in the blanks: what unclean spirits do we face living our Christian lives: speaking the truth to power; defending the rights of the poor and displaced; befriending the imprisoned; feeding the stranger, etc.? The only way the apostles and we can fulfill our assigned prophetic calling is through the authority of Jesus. We are not on our own, we have Jesus as our guide and presence as we fulfill the tasks he has given us.

Jesus is realistic. He doesn’t want to set up his apostles for failure. But they will be rejected; but shouldn’t get discouraged. or downcast when that happens. These prophets – we prophets – are to pick up and move on “…shake the dust off your feet." It was a symbolic gesture the Israelites did when they returned from a pagan land.)

Note that the mission the apostles were to do took two shapes: words and deeds. They were to have authority over unclean spirits and to preach repentance. This would be a visible fulfillment of what Jesus said in the beginning of Mark’s gospel: “The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the gospel” (1:15). Jesus now has coworkers, partners, in his mission to fulfill God’s saving plan for all. These workers are given the very power Jesus had over all kinds of evil. It might be the personal sins we encounter in our own lives or the immediate world or, like Amos, we may have to challenge local and national government, even our own church, when they do not live up to Jesus’ teaching.

Jesus is no longer with us in his flesh. But we are his flesh and blood in our present time. The readings show today God has chosen ordinary people like us and given us extraordinary powers. Every day we have opportunities to touch the minds and hearts of those around us at home, school, work, or recreation. By our words and the example of our lives, we announce the nearness of God: “The kingdom of God is at hand.”

Amos was what we would call an “ordinary guy.” Jesus’ first disciples were also ordinary men and women. God doesn’t seem to have any qualifications for higher education, influence, or talent. It’s just us ordinary folk here. But that means we have no excuse when God calls us to do a chosen task, big or small, in words or actions. God has a habit of calling plain folk to proclaim Jesus’ message but always equips them with what they need to fulfill their mission.

That being true, we don’t have to worry if we have all the “baggage” to perform our tasks. As we heard in the readings today, we are the ones sent by the Lord and given authority over unclean spirits. So, we ask for the guidance to learn from the Spirit what is our inspired and directed task. Then we set about to fulfill it.

Click here for a link to this Sunday’s readings:




He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick.

—Mark 6: 8

Today’s readings are all about a call to mission. I can hear you thinking, “Surely you don’t mean me? The sole journey I would take with only a walking stick would be a jaunt around the block.” Part and parcel with mission is the word “evangelization.” Look at the preamble to the USCCB mission statement which speaks to all Catholics: “Evangelizing is in fact the grace and vocation proper to the Church, her deepest identity. She exists to evangelize (Evangelii nuntiandi, 14). The mission of evangelization is entrusted by Christ to his Church to be carried out in all her forms of ministry, witness, and service. By evangelizing, the Church seeks to bring about in all Catholics such an enthusiasm for their faith that, in living their faith in Jesus and strengthened by the sacraments, most especially the celebration of the Eucharist, they freely share that faith with others to transform the world” (Based on Go and Make Disciples, A National Plan and Strategy for Catholic Evangelization in the United States, 1990).


The word “evangelization” is a scary word for most lay Catholics, conjuring up street corner proselytizers. So let us re-examine this ancient concept of ministry. Evangelization has been reintroduced and redefined since the Vatican II Ecumenical Council and the 1975 Apostolic Exhortation “Evangelii Nuntiandi” (“The Gospel Must Be Proclaimed.”) by Paul VI. Evangelization has several components: first and foremost, love, love of God, love of others, love of self; then, invitation into a personal relationship with Jesus, ongoing conversion, conscious, active extension of ourselves and our communities and the nurture of spiritual growth within the context of a worshipping faith community, and the ministry of loving service to others.


The ministry of loving service to others is not just something we should do when we have spare time. As Pope Paul VI writes:

How in fact can one proclaim the new commandment without promoting in justice and in peace the true, authentic advancement of man? We ourselves have taken care to point this out, by recalling that it is impossible to accept ‘that in evangelization one could or should ignore the importance of the problems … concerning justice, liberation, development and peace in the world.  This would be to forget the lesson which comes to us from the Gospel concerning love of our neighbor who is suffering and in need (EN 31).

Let’s get out our walking sticks and change the world.


Barbara Molinari Quinby, MPS, Director
Office of Human Life, Dignity, and Justice Ministries
Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral, Raleigh, NC



Mini reflections on the Sunday scripture readings designed for persons on the run. “Faith Book” is also brief enough to be posted in the Sunday parish bulletins people take home.

From today’s Gospel reading:

Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send
them out two by two and gave them
authority over unclean spirits.



As Jesus “summoned” the Twelve, so he “summons” and sends us out in his name. Ephesians reminds us that God has “blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens.” Those blessings should go a long way in helping us respond when someone asks, “What do you believe?” Or, “Who is Jesus for you?”


So, we ask ourselves:

  • In my daily life how am I responding to a “call” from Jesus?

  • In my prayer, conversations, reading, etc, am I sensing a new call from the Lord?



“One has to strongly affirm that condemnation to the death penalty is an inhuman measure that humiliates personal dignity, in whatever form it is carried out."
---Pope Francis

Inmates on death row are the most forgotten people in the prison system. Each week I am posting in this space several inmates’ names and locations. I invite you to write a postcard to one or more of them to let them know that: we have not forgotten them; are praying for them and their families; or, whatever personal encouragement you might like to give them. If the inmate responds, you might consider becoming pen pals.

Please write to:

  • Edward Davis #0100579 (On death row since 3/12/1992)

  • Kenneth Rouse #0353186 (3/25/1992)

  • Michael Reeves #0339314 (5/14/1992)

----Central Prison, P.O. 247 Phoenix, MD 21131

Please note: Central Prison is in Raleigh, NC., but for security purposes, mail to inmates is processed through a clearing house at the above address in Maryland.

For more information on the Catholic position on the death penalty go to the Catholic Mobilizing Network:

On this page you can sign “The National Catholic Pledge to End the Death Penalty.” Also, check the interfaith page for People of Faith Against the Death Penalty:




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If you would like to support this ministry, please send tax deductible contributions to F. Jude Siciliano, O.P.:

St. Albert Priory, 3150 Vince Hagan Drive, Irving, Texas 75062-4736

Make checks payable to: Dominican Friars.


Or, go to our webpage to make an online donation:






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