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Fifteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

July 14, 2024

Today’s Invitation

Today we invite you to explore change-making in the dominant culture of doing more, with the help of Thomas Merton; engage the call for workers’ rest in Catholic Social Teaching; and embody work and rest with the example of the Los Angeles Catholic Worker and “Icon of Christ and Abbot Mena.”

Commentary by Maria Teresa Kamel

Fifteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Reading 1

Amos 7:12-15

Amaziah told Amos, “Go away seer! Go back to the land of Judah. Earn your breadthere. Do your prophesying there. We want no more prophesying in Bethel. This is a royal sanctuary, the National temple.” Amos answered Amaziah, “I am no prophet. Nor am I the disciple of a prophet. I was a shepherd, and gathered figs for food. But YHWH took me from herding the flock, and said to me, ‘Go prophesy to my people Israel.’”

Responsorial Psalm

Psalm 85

Response: Let us see Your faithfulness, and give us Your saving help.

I will hear what You, O God, have to say, / a voice that speaks of peace,
Peace for Your faithful / and those who turn to You in hope.
Your help is near for those who fear You / and Your glory will dwell in our land.
R: Let us see Your faithfulness, and give us Your saving help.

Mercy and faithfulness have met; /justice and peace have embraced. Faithfulness will spring
from the earth / and justice looks down from heaven.
R: Let us see Your faithfulness, and give us Your saving help.

Adonai, You will make us prosper, / and our earth will yield its fruit.
Justice will march before You, / and peace will follow Your steps.
R: Let us see Your faithfulness, and give us Your saving help.

Reading 2

Ephesians 1:3-14

Praised be the Maker of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has bestowed on us in Christ every spiritual blessing in the heavens! Before the world began, God chose us in Christ to be holy and blameless and to be full of love; God likewise predestined us through Christ Jesus to be adopted children — such was God’s pleasure and will — that everyone might praise the glory of God’s grace which was freely bestowed on us in God’s beloved, Jesus Christ.

It is in Christ and through the blood of Christ that we have been redeemed and our sins forgiven, so immeasurably generous is God’s favor given to us with perfect wisdom and understanding. God has taken pleasure in revealing the mystery of the plan through Christ, to be carried out in the fullness of time; namely, to bring all things — in heaven and on the earth —together in Christ.

In Christ Jesus we were willed an inheritance; for in the decree of God — and everything is administered according
to the divine will and counsel — we were predestined to praise the glory of the Most High by being the first to hope in Christ. In Christ you too were chosen. When you heard the Good News of salvation, the word of truth, and believed in it, you were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the pledge of our inheritance, the deposit paid against the full redemption of a people who are God’s own — to the praise of God’s glory.


Mark 6:7-13

Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out in pairs, giving them authority over unclean spirits. He instructed them that they should take nothing for their journey, except a mere staff — no bread, no bag, no money in their belts. They were to wear sandals, but he added, “Do not take a spare tunic.”

And Jesus said to them, “Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave town. Any place that does not receive you or listen to you, as you leave it, shake off the dust from the soles of your feet as a testimony against them.”

And so they set off, proclaiming repentance as they went. They cast out many demons, and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.

The Inclusive Lectionary © 2022 FutureChurch. All rights reserved. 

The inclusive language psalms:
Leach, Maureen, O.S.F. and Schreck, Nancy, O.S.F., Psalms Anew: A Non-sexist Edition
(Dubuque, IA: The Sisters of St. Francis, 1984).
Used with permission.



Change-Making in the Dominant Culture

A lot of us generally understand the concept of material detachment, enough to feel uneasy with owning more things than are strictly necessary. For those of us who live or participate in intentional community, we even structure our lives and decisions around the belief that God will provide a spare tunic if we need one. It’s telling, therefore, that Christ’s exhortation to his followers doesn’t end with a command to take “only what they need,” but continues with instructions on how to detach from work. “Any place that does not receive you or listen to you, as you leave it, shake off the dust from the soles of your feet as a testimony against them.” That is, the indicated response to communities that don’t want their message is to move on.

Shaking the dust off our feet is evidently a much more challenging concept to accept than the call to travel light. Our challenge isn’t always that we need to have more, but the very insidious belief that we need to do more. Our economic system manipulates primal fears of scarcity and subsequent failure, leading us to do everything possible to protect an imagined imperiled future self – justice-based intentional communities, even those rooted in faith traditions, are hardly immune to the pulls of the dominant culture. 

I’m reminded of Thomas Merton, a very hard worker himself. Towards the end of The Seven Storey Mountain, Merton describes the very early days of his time as a novice in the Trappist monastery, in which the novices woke up very early to work outdoors, and where the expectation was “to make some act of pure intention and fling yourself into the business and work up a sweat and get a great deal finished by the time it is all over…The idea is to keep on working.”

We know what it looks like in practice when we “keep on working.” Organizers, activists, leaders and followers are trapped in by the demands of the workspace, culture, and our impossible, self-imposed expectations. We’re often tired, bitter, hopeless, anxious, and tragically lost. We cling to learned virtues but forget their purpose: detachment should lead us to trust.  

It would do us good to remember that we can trust that God can do a better job than we can. The apostles may not have convinced every single person they met, but demons were still cast out and the sick were still healed. Merton writes that God had always been working in the background of his life, and that the problems that seemed so important and insurmountable to him had been quietly resolved. Indeed, without his even noticing, God “had worked the solution into the very tissue of my own life.”

Commentary by Maria Teresa Kamel

Maria Teresa Kamel is an extended community member of the Los Angeles Catholic Worker. She loves to read short fiction and medieval theology, and splits her time between Los Angeles and her hometown of San Antonio.

Engage Catholic Social Teaching


Despite the aforementioned Trappists’ work ethic, labor is made complete by rest. The right to pause work and rest is affirmed in Rerum novarum (1891). In addition to criticizing the inhuman practice of overworking laborers so “as to stupefy their minds and wear out their bodies,” Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical also points out that “Man’s powers, like his general nature, are limited, and beyond these limits he cannot go,” and that any expectation of work can only be fulfilled if sustained by periods of leisure (42).

More recently, rest is understood as necessary for spiritual and moral integration in our communities. In Laudato si’, Pope Francis warns that minimizing the importance of “contemplative rest” essentially strips work of its purpose. Rest, “protects human action from becoming empty activism; it also prevents that unfettered greed and sense of isolation which make us seek personal gain to the detriment of all else.” Moreover, Pope Francis asserts that rest leads us to a more genuine social awareness, a “renewed sensitivity to the rights of others,” and greater concern for “nature and the poor” (237).


A Community

The Los Angeles Catholic Worker

The Los Angeles Catholic Worker hasn’t only provided me with community for almost a decade, but with constant lessons in trust. The LACW operates three times a week out of the tiny “Hippie Kitchen” in Skid Row, providing meals to hundreds of the neighborhood’s residents. As the city’s count of unhoused and residents unwaveringly goes up, serving beans is an effort that can be as rewarding as it is hopeless. Nonetheless, the community continues its mission of providing loving, healthy meals to those who want them. Three times per week, anyone can eat (or rest) at the kitchen’s garden, which one gentleman described to me as “a real oasis in downtown Los Angeles.”


Icon of Christ and Abbot Mena

I get a big kick out of the “Icon of Christ and Abbot Mena.” The big eyes are adorable, but the hand Christ has on the tired Abbot’s shoulder is an invitation to consolation, reassurance, and trust.

Image description: In a faded, old image, the Abbot wears a brown robe, with a halo behind him. Also in a brown robe, Jesus stands to his right holding a book in one hand, with the other arm around the Abbot.