Journeying with Giants
Lectionary themes for the month of July 2012
by Patricia Datchuck Sánchez and Rafael Sánchez Alonso
This regular Celebration feature, which summarizes the themes found in the Lectionary selections for the Sundays of month, appears in the July 2012 issue of Celebration. It is offered as a possible bilingual reprint insert for parish bulletins, a single sheet two-sided resource valuable in ministry settings that serve both Latino and Anglo communities.
As we journey through July, the sacred texts invite us to become reacquainted with some of the most admirable and inspiring heroes of our faith.
Among these spiritual giants is the eccentric Ezekiel (July 8), who shares the heavy burden he is willing to bear for God and his contemporaries. In order to answer the call to prophesy, Ezekiel was willing to preach an unwelcome and unpopular message of repentance to a people described as rebellious, hard of face and obstinate of heart. Called by God, Ezekiel responded.
We will walk for a time with Amos (July 15) who also dared to speak for God. He was willing to leave his family, his two jobs and the security of his home in Tekoa to travel to the northern kingdom and confront the unfaithful and inhospitable with their sins. Unwilling to back down, unable to remain silent when the truth demands to be heard, Amos exudes the courage and the grit every disciple of the word is challenged to possess. The example of Amos is offered not to shame or discourage us, but to mentor us toward similar strength and commitment.
Jeremiah’s courage and commitment will be in evidence as well this month (July 22) as he relays the promises of God to those who have been poorly tended and misled by their leaders. God will intervene, he promises. In the form of a righteous shoot from the line of David, God will restore justice and right, and all God’s people will live in security; the name of this promised one will be “the Lord, our justice.” When earthly leaders fall short of their responsibilities, eschew the values they were elected to uphold and do away with the principles they are to protect, believers place their hopes for a just and more authentic form of leadership in God. These hopes will not be disappointed.
On July 29, we will renew our relationship with Elisha. Successor of Elijah, Elisha was responsive to God in turbulent times not unlike our own. In order to affirm God’s power to save, even in the midst of peril, Elisha, in God’s name, worked a series of wonders: He purified a poisoned spring, gave an unending supply of food to a widow and her son during a famine, raised her dead son to life and fed a hundred people with 20 small barley loaves.
All of these good men, and the women who supported them and their ministry, prepared believers to recognize Jesus as God’s greatest prophet and as God’s ultimate living Word to humankind. Just as Elisha, Amos, Jeremiah and Ezekiel represented God’s will and God’s ways for their people, so Jesus has made the love, the mind, the heart and the spirit of God palpable in his own flesh and blood. Jesus healed the sick, raised the dead (July 1) and fed the hungry multitudes with bread (July 29). Intent for his disciples to continue his earthly ministry, Jesus also equipped those whom he called with every gift necessary to assure, inspire and support their sustained service.
First among those gifts is grace, a gift that Paul (July 8) acknowledged to be sufficient in facing down every danger and to endure whatever “thorns” of flesh or spirit might discourage one’s perseverance. Another of the gifts that enables and empowers our service to God, to the Word and to God’s people is that of the Eucharist. Prefigured in the miracle of the loaves for the multitudes (July 29), the Eucharist is the food that transforms sinners and whets their appetites for ever more profound union and intimacy with God. Eucharist is the holy and living bread that can sensitize believers to the hungers of others, whether these are physical, spiritual, social or psychological. We are privileged to be fed regularly at God’s good feast. Yet with this privilege comes the responsibility of carefully tending to others. To guide our efforts, Paul holds out the example of Jesus, who, though he was rich, became poor for our sake. Inspired by Jesus’ gift of himself, the great apostle urges just generosity within the community, such that the abundance of a few might serve the needs of many (July 1).
Not least of God’s great and empowering gifts is Jesus’ daily invitation to come away to rest awhile in him (July 22). Every life requires sustenance, and what sustains disciples in their service are those special times of prayer and solitude that must be engineered into every day and night. These special moments with the Lord make us disciples rather than mere humanitarians, and believing servants rather than overburdened workhorses. These times of prayer keep us real and make us human while staving off weariness, resentment and discouragement that could defeat us. More importantly, these prayerful moments keep us coming back to Jesus and to God as we continue to journey with the giants of our faith.
Patricia Datchuck Sánchez and Rafael Sánchez Alonso have been collaborating to provide Lectionary commentaries and homilies for Celebration since 1979.