15th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B): Gospel – Mark 6:7-13
Jesus bestows authority upon the Apostles and sends them forth
As today’s Gospel makes clear,
Christ is Himself the source of ministry in the Church. He instituted the Church. He gave her authority and mission, orientation and goal. In order to shepherd the People of God and to increase its numbers without cease, Christ the Lord set up in His Church a variety of offices which aim at the good of the whole body.
— Catechism paragraph 874.
Holy Orders is the sacrament through which the mission entrusted by Christ to His apostles continues to be exercised in the Church until the end of time: thus it is the sacrament of apostolic ministry.
— paragraph 1536.
Ordination configures the priest to Christ as the Head, marks upon him an “indelible spiritual character” (1581-82) and “confers a sacred power for the service of the faithful” (1592).
Through the priest, “it is Christ Himself who is present to His Church as Head of His Body, Shepherd of His flock, high priest of the redemptive sacrifice, Teacher of Truth” (1548). “Called to consecrate themselves with undivided heart to the Lord and to the affairs of the Lord, [priests] give themselves entirely to God and to [us]” (1579).
St. John Vianney, patron saint of all priests, summed up the gift of the ministerial priesthood:
If we really understood the priest on earth, we would die not of fright but of love. The Priesthood is the love of the Heart of Jesus.
— quoted in paragraph 1589.
While those in Holy Orders have especially grave obligations, the laity are also called to proclaim the Gospel, and provide faithful witness to Christ, in every sphere of life:
The whole Church is apostolic, in that she remains, through the successors of St. Peter and the other apostles, in communion of faith and life with her origin: and in that she is ‘sent out’ into the whole world. All members of the Church share in this mission, though in various ways.
— paragraph 863.
Since, like all the faithful, lay Christians are entrusted by God with the apostolate by virtue of their Baptism and Confirmation, they have the right and duty, individually or grouped in associations, to work so that the divine message of salvation may be known and accepted by all men throughout the earth.
— paragraph 900.
It is from God’s love for all men that the Church in every age receives both the obligation and the vigor of her missionary dynamism, for the love of Christ urges us on.
— paragraph 851.
Question for reflection: What priests have been most helpful to my spiritual life?