1. Fr. John Puodziunas
    Assumption BVM Province

    A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Mark.

    Glory to you Lord.

    Jesus summoned the twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits. He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick; no food, no sack, no money in belts. They were however to wear sandals but not a second tunic. He said to them "Wherever you enter a house stay there until you leave. Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them." They went off and preached repentance. The twelve drove out many demons and they annointed with many who were sick and cured then.

    The Gospel of the Lord.

    Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ.

    Through those formative years that we call Catholic grade school we learn much: reading, writing, arithmetic. We even learn about God and a little bit about faith. But the real lessons are the experiences of Gospel living. For example, throughout grade school we were always paired up with someone else and wherever we went we went two by two. So off to the gymnasium two by two, off to get our lunch two by two, taking a message to the office two by two. One may ask "Can't I do this by myself? Can't I walk alone? Why must I always be paired?" and then one of my friends David said, must've been about the 4th grade, "Well we know why, because Jesus sent out the disciples two by two." And so therefore we are paired two by two. In that simple, the simple innocence of that response, we have a Gospel lesson for life. We are never alone. Today's Gospel, Jesus sends out the disciples with specific tasks to preach repentance, to cure the sick, to expel demons, hard work for the disciples and also for us today. If we think we're gonna do it ourselves in our arrogance we will fail. Jesus sends us out, he empowers us, he sends us, two by two, not alone. In that there will always be success and if we recognize our empowerment and recognize that we are not alone we will not fail. Sometimes called to the work of the Gospel to ministry we may feel ourselves inadequate, "I’m too young, I’m too old, I’m unprepared. I can't do that." Hear Amos' story in that first reading "I’m not a prophet, I’m a shepherd, I’m a dresser of sycamores." but "No" God says, "You will prophesy" because what you speak is of God. Even Amos was not alone, and therefore he was successful. More often in our own lives, in the simple ordinary events of our lives the ordinary struggles that are a family of economy, the ordinary struggles of our own health, we may find ourselves feeling abandoned, feeling alone. We need only remember that Jesus sends us out two by two. We are never alone.

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  2. Fr. Brian Walker, O.P.
    St. Albert the Great Province

    Proclamation of the Holy Gospel according to Saint Mark.

    Glory to you O Lord.

    Jesus departed from there and came to his native place accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue and many who heard him were astonished. They said "Where did this man get all this? What kind of wisdom has been given him? What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands? Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of Lames and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?" And they took offense at him. Jesus said to them "A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house." So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.

    The Gospel of the Lord.

    Praise to you lord Jesus Christ.

    There are times when we go to a certain place or visit a new site for whatever reason, we may be on vacation or we're just going to see something and then when we get there and we see it we're kinda surprised at "Is this all there is?" You know they talk about so many great places and so many wonderful things. I know from my own travels to the Holy Land. I've gotten to certain places and I always take people on pilgrimage, some people will say "Is this it? Is this all there is? I expected great things." Sometimes the greatness is there but we refuse to recognize it. Last week the Lord told the synagogue official to not be afraid and to have faith. This time Jesus comes to his own land and he is surprised at their lack of faith. May we not be those people, having little faith. But may we be strong, understand what is before us, the wisdom that is given us and may we truly, truly have faith. The Lord is with us. Amen.

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  3. Fr. Brian Walker, O.P.
    St. Albert the Great Province

    A proclamation of the Holy Gospel according to Saint Mark.

    Glory to you O Lord.

    When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side a large crowd gathered around him and he stayed close to the sea. One of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came forward. Seeing him, he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him saying "My daughter is at the point of death. Please come, lay your hands on her that she may get well and live.” He went off with him and a large crowd followed him and pressed upon him. While he was still speaking, people from the synagogue official’s house arrived and said "Your daughter has died. Why trouble the teacher any longer?" Disregarding the message that was reported, Jesus said to the synagogue official "Do not be afraid, just have faith.” He did not allow anyone to accompany him inside except Peter, James and John the brother of James. When they arrived at the house of the synagogue official, he caught sight of a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. So he went and said to them "Why this commotion and weeping? The child is not dead, but asleep.” And they ridiculed him. Then he put them all out. He took along the child’s father and mother and those who were with him and entered the room where the child was. He took the child by the hand and said to her "Talitha cum." which means "Little girl, I say to you arise". The girl, a child of twelve, arose immediately and walked around. At that, they were utterly astounded. He gave strict orders that no one should know this and said that she should be given something to eat.

    The Gospel of the Lord.

    Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ.

    In our reading today, our first reading and in our Gospel reading we hear about death. The first reading tells us that God did not bring death and destruction but it was because of the envy of the evil one. And we hear about the innocence of a child dying. But Jesus, giving such comforting words "Do not be afraid, have faith.” We live in a society where people are constantly being disregarded and life seems to be at any cost so invaluable. But Jesus tells us, even in our infirmity, even in our sickness and being very close to death and in our aging process that we should not be afraid. Have faith. And it is in that faith that we understand that life comes and life comes abundantly. Let us reflect on the words of the Lord in our lives today. Let us not be afraid, but let us have faith. The Lord said that we should ask for anything and it will be given.

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  4. Fr. Mark Payne
    St. Veronica

    A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke.

    Glory to you O Lord.

    When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and her relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy towards her and they rejoiced with her. When they came on the 8th day to circumcise the child they were going to call him Zechariah after his father. But his mother said in reply “No, he will be called John.” But they answered her “There is no one among your relatives who has this name so they made signs asking his father what he wished him to be called.” He asked for a tablet and wrote “John is his name” and all were amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed and he spoke and blessed God. Then fear came upon all their neighbors and all these matters were discussed throughout the hill country of Judea. All who heard these things took them to heart saying “What then will this child be?” For surely the hand of the Lord was with him. The child grew and became strong in spirit and he was in the desert until the day of his manifestation to Israel.

    The Gospel of the Lord.

    Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ.

    As we gather on this day of the birth of John the Baptist I want you to recall your own baptism. On that day when I was baptized, I was baptized Mark Charles Payne, Charles after my grandfather on my mother's side, Charles O'Neil. And you see it follows in that line, in my own heritage I carry on part of my heritage just as John's parents thought that they would carry on the heritage or the relatives of John thought that they would carry on the heritage but that wasn't true. Instead his mother and his father said “No. His name is gonna be John.” I believe that that was so significant because God called John for a special task, a special task to announce and to proclaim Jesus. Each and every one of you is called by name. Each and every one of you on your baptismal day was given that name to bear and for some of you you probably bear relatives names, maybe a grandmother or grandfather, but you bear that name and God has called you. He called you from the moment of your conception for a task, as John went out to announce Jesus' coming we go out and we proclaim Jesus' presence, we go out and we proclaim Jesus' presence in word and deed. You have been called by name. We even give ourselves names at confirmation, why? Because again there's a change, the Holy Spirit comes upon us so that we can go out and live the faith that we've been given. So today, as John was called you are called, by name, to go out and bring the good news and make a difference with your families, your relatives and your friends. Bless you.

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  5. Fr. Matthew Widder
    St. Mary

    A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Mark.

    Glory to you O Lord.

    Jesus said to the crowds "This is how it is with the kingdom of God. It is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land and would sleep and rise night and day. And through it all the seed would sprout and grow. He knows not how, of it's own accord the land yields fruits. First the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. And when the grain is white he wields the sickle at once for the harvest has come." He said "To what shall we compare the kingdom of God or what parable can we use for it? It is like a mustard seed that when it is sown in the ground is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth but once it is sown it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade." With many such parables he spoke the word to them as they were able to understand it. Without the parables he did not speak to them but to his own disciples he explained everything in private.

    The Gospel of the Lord.

    Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ.

    Recently I had the chance to go visit a couple at the parish who were getting ready to have their first child, a baby daughter, and they showed me their house and they specifically wanted to show me the room that they had prepared for their baby daughter to grow up in. And it was interesting to look around and see everything. Everything from the carpet they had put in brand new. They had a brand new crib that took hours and hours to construct. They also had diapers, they were prepared for everything. They had a perfect environment for their daughter to grow up that they could nourish their daughter with love and care and support. I think of that same image today as we hear our Gospel, Jesus scattering that seed. The seed of course being our lives. The faith that we have and it's through Jesus' grace that that seed that's planted can grow strong. It's our job to keep that environment strong. You know in that beautiful second reading from second Corinthians we hear we walk by faith and not by sight. And that's a good thing because looking around at all of us we don't always look perfect, our lives aren't always good. We're battling sicknesses, we're battling depression, maybe we know someone whose lost a job. Sometime just looking in our eyes we don't always look great but yet there's something deeper. The Holy Spirit is working at a deeper level. That deep, that level of faith, that level of hope, that level of love. That can't be seen on the outside but is seen by how we handle those different circumstances that we get. You know perhaps in these summer months you might have different family parties and grandchildren get home and you look at your granddaughter or grandson and say "Wow. Have you grown? Maybe an inch, two inches three inches?" And of course they haven't grown all at once but slowly but surely they're growing. So it is with our faith lives. Perhaps in the tough times we can't always feel God's presence, we don't always feel like we have that perfect environment. But just like a child grows with the right nutrients, when we put ourself into God's love, God's faith, God's hope, so also we grow through those tough times.

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