Seventh Sunday after Pentecost

 

The Collect

O God, you have taught us to keep all your commandments by loving you and our neighbor: Grant us the grace of your Holy Spirit, that we may be devoted to you with our whole heart, and united to one another with pure affection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Old Testament

Ezekiel 2:1-5

The Lord said to me: O mortal, stand up on your feet, and I will speak with you. And when he spoke to me, a spirit entered into me and set me on my feet; and I heard him speaking to me. He said to me, Mortal, I am sending you to the people of Israel, to a nation of rebels who have rebelled against me; they and their ancestors have transgressed against me to this very day. The descendants are impudent and stubborn. I am sending you to them, and you shall say to them, “Thus says the Lord God.” Whether they hear or refuse to hear (for they are a rebellious house), they shall know that there has been a prophet among them.

 

The Response

Psalm 123

To you I lift up my eyes, *
to you enthroned in the heavens.

As the eyes of servants look to the hand of their masters, *
and the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress,

So our eyes look to the Lord our God, *
until he show us his mercy.

Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy, *
for we have had more than enough of contempt,

Too much of the scorn of the indolent rich, *
and of the derision of the proud.

 

The Epistle

2 Corinthians 12:2-10

I know a person in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows. And I know that such a person—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows— was caught up into Paradise and heard things that are not to be told, that no mortal is permitted to repeat. On behalf of such a one I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses. But if I wish to boast, I will not be a fool, for I will be speaking the truth. But I refrain from it, so that no one may think better of me than what is seen in me or heard from me, even considering the exceptional character of the revelations. Therefore, to keep me from being too elated, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.

 

The Gospel

Mark 6:1-13

Jesus came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.” And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. And he was amazed at their unbelief.

Then he went about among the villages teaching. He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics. He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

 

 

Commentary on Mark 6:1-13

Claudio Carvalhaes

[Editor's note: The author has read this text from the perspective of an immigrant, pairing the events of
the gospel reading with the events of our time, imagining the gospel taking into account our own social
situation.]

Mark 6:1

He was named Jesus, a name his parents gave him when he was healed when he was a child. Jesus Jose
Maria Lopez. Everyone expected Jesus to go to El Norte ("the North") and save them. El Norte was a
mixed place filled with contradictions. Promises and nightmares filled both sides of the mouth of the
people who ever dreamed of going there. The situation of his village, his pueblito, was such that people
had to leave their homes to escape sheer brutality and economic hardships. Many of them went to El
Norte
because they had no choice and not because they were hoping for any richness. The most radical
hope was to get to a place in the United States and work quietly, hoping to send some help back home.

Jesus was one among many people who were going to save this poor village. Jesus was hope not only
for money but for a path -- a way out
. Pride and honor were also at stake. In a community destitute of
everything, anything that could lift them up would be life changing. The expectations varied. Some
would expect him to make miracles. Other wouldn't wait for much, knowing that just the thought of
trying to go was already an act of unspeakable bravery. They all knew that along the way there were
coyotes (smugglers), la migra (border patrol), rape, and prisons in which inmates become profit for
private business -- and those north-bound travelers are stripped of their bare-minimum sense of
humanity. Hatred was everywhere, evil eyes and brutal hands waiting to destroy what was once deeply
loved back in the village.

Mark 6:2-3

Jesus managed to cross the desert, got a job, and sent money back. Until he was caught. In jail, he wrote
his mother telling her the whole situation and asking her to forgive him. He also asked her what the
villagers were saying about him. At first, she didn't want to say anything but she had promised to be
honest with him the day he left home. She then said that at first, people were asking, "Where did he get
all this money? It is like a miracle." But they doubted, thinking he was a robber or a con-man. When
they found out he was detained, they started saying: "We knew it, he is no good for this village. He

thought he was above everybody else but was caught by la migra. Stupid! He has no skills to survive as
an immigrant
."

When Jesus read the letter his mother sent, he was caught by surprise. And he was devastated. He truly
believed that people would be so proud of him for having tried, for having managed to cross the border

 

 

and send some money home. And then he thought that the fact that he was caught would make people
have mercy on him and cover him with prayers. Non
e of that.

For the most part he had no honor in his own village anymore. Even at his house, his brothers were
mocking him. He felt stuck -- he couldn't do anythin
g. Only his mother loved him unconditionally. All
his own people abandoned him and he realized that there was a thin line between honor and shame, and
that line that could easily be flipped, depending on what the community needed or decided to feel about
him. Allegiances and betrayals were the same side of their feelings for him.

Mark 6:6-13

Feeling utterly alone, Jesus mustered some strength to send a letter to his four kids. His wife was killed
by the brutality of gangs and the acquiescence of the
state, something neither him nor his kids were able
to grieve comple
tely. He didn't know how long he was going to be in that immigrant prison and he
decided to write a letter to his kids. He wrote:

Stephanie, Angel, Ana, y Dieguito, mis queridos nines, Perdoname! (my dear children, forgive me.) I
had to leave you to find a way for you to eat, to live.

Stephanie and Angel wanted to come with me but I am glad they didn't. La Migra is taking away kids
from their parents as soon as they catch them crossing
la frontera (the border). I write you from this jail,
a place that looks like a cage for animals. I can hear
mamas y papas crying day and night longing to be
united with their children again
. But nobody knows where they are. We hear the government is
misplacing our kids and they have no idea where these beloved kids are.

I can't imagine how these kids are feeling! So scared, so anxious, so desperate. My heart aches so much
here that sometimes I think
I will not be able to make it. This jail is like a cross where we die slowly of
shame and violence. Our blood drops from our hearts every day, and every day a little of what we think
of ourselves is lost
. I don't know what it will happen to me. Perhaps I will rise again in your heart.

But one thing I want you to listen to -- and listen carefully! Never, under in any circumstance, go away
on your own. You are four people and you should always go to places in groups of two
. Never go
anywhere alone, be it to buy bread or to sleep. Make sure that you care for your
abuela (grandma), and
love her and treat her well
. I might not be able to talk to you again but I tell you don't cross this border.
There are merciless people here. I've heard there are good people, but they don
't raise their voices the
way angry, patriotic people do and the feeling is that they are overwhelmingly larger, even if it is not
true.

However, if you ever cross this border, bring only water, tortillas, and a crucifix. Nothing else! You
might get lost
. You might get raped. And if they get you, you will be in jail for a long time since there is
an official "bed mandate" where
la migra must fulfill a certain number of prisoners in order to make
profit for private business. You might lose your mind. You will think they are possessed by demons
because only people possessed by bad spirits can do such things. And the worst thing, as you stay with

 

them for a while you will feel you are possessed too. You start to curse and say they are evil. In the
name of Jesus cast away their demons but cast your d
emons away too!

And above all things, guard your hearts. God has given you fullness! In whatever situation, be grateful
to the earth, to God and to the universe
. Trust in yourself. Nothing and nobody can take away the
dignity of your own life because you are a child of God
, made in God's own image! It is hard to say, but
they are too. Ask for oil when you can, pray for their transformation and your own healing.

Try to keep your sanity. Life is over only when God takes you to eternity. Before that life is a struggle!
Always! Get used to horrendous stories you will hear and keep on going! Never go alone! Keep
company with someone! Love as much as you can! Pray all the time! Fight without ceasing! And above
all: don't give up! And kno
w that I love you and I will always be with you.

Your father,

Jesus

 

 

 

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