Catholic homily outline for the Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B – Heal the Sick

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Central idea: Care for others. Doctrine: All Christians share in Christ’s healing mission. Practical application: Caring for the Sick. 

Written as an aid for homilists and a resource for the faithful, this doctrinal homily outline (1) provides insights into the Lectionary readings, (2) explicates a doctrine of Catholic Faith or morals from them, and (3) shows specific ways lay persons can live these truths. (To read more about this approach, click here.)

This outline is written to be in accord with the Homiletic Directory issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (2014). (To read an excellent summary of the Homiletic Directory, click here.

To view Lectionary 104, click here.

Central idea: Care for others

Reading 1: Am 7:12-15

Amaziah, priest of Bethel, said to Amos,
“Off with you, visionary, flee to the land of Judah!
There earn your bread by prophesying,
but never again prophesy in Bethel;
for it is the king’s sanctuary and a royal temple.”
Amos answered Amaziah, “I was no prophet,
nor have I belonged to a company of prophets;
I was a shepherd and a dresser of sycamores.
The LORD took me from following the flock, and said to me,
Go, prophesy to my people Israel.”

  • Amaziah seems to see being a prophet as a way of making a living and to want to get rid of Amos as unwelcome competition. Amos replies that being a prophet is not a job but a divine vocation: he got his order to be a prophet from God. This is why he left his work as a shepherd and farm worker.
  • In today’s Gospel, we hear how the twelve apostles get their orders to announce the Gospel in words and in miracles. Like Amos, they have a vocation and a commission.
  • It has to be said again and again that all the baptized also have a vocation to announce the Gospel by the way we live our lives: by our words and our actions. For most of us it is in the ordinary circumstances of our lives, in the condition Amos was in before his special call.

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 85:9-10, 11-12, 13-14

R. Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation.

I will hear what God proclaims;
the LORD —for he proclaims peace.
Near indeed is his salvation to those who fear him,
glory dwelling in our land.

Kindness and truth shall meet;
justice and peace shall kiss.
Truth shall spring out of the earth,
and justice shall look down from heaven.

The LORD himself will give his benefits;
our land shall yield its increase.
Justice shall walk before him,
and prepare the way of his steps.

  • People long for God’s visitation—whether from a prophet like Amos, or from an apostle, or from you or me!
  • The psalm gives reasons we welcome God’s word. In addition to promising sufficient material goods to live, it integrates God’s truth and justice with his kindness and gift of peace.
    • God’s truth could be unwelcome to us if it were simply the truth about us, because that truth could justly condemn us.
    • Yet God accomplishes this feat of integrating truth/justice with kindness/peace. St. Paul explains how.

Reading 2: Eph 1:3-14

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us in Christ
with every spiritual blessing in the heavens,
as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world,
to be holy and without blemish before him.
In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ,
in accord with the favor of his will,
for the praise of the glory of his grace
that he granted us in the beloved.
In him we have redemption by his blood,

the forgiveness of transgressions,
in accord with the riches of his grace that he lavished upon us.
In all wisdom and insight, he has made known to us
the mystery of his will in accord with his favor
that he set forth in him as a plan for the fullness of times,
to sum up all things in Christ, in heaven and on earth.

In him we were also chosen,
destined in accord with the purpose of the One
who accomplishes all things according to the intention of his will,
so that we might exist for the praise of his glory,
we who first hoped in Christ.
In him you also, who have heard the word of truth,
the gospel of your salvation, and have believed in him,
were sealed with the promised holy Spirit,
which is the first installment of our inheritance
toward redemption as God’s possession, to the praise of his glory.

  • Paul explains how God’s own kindness and peace and justice and truth are ours.
    • From all eternity, God the Father chooses to give us his holiness through the work of his Son, Jesus Christ.
    • Out of love, he chose us to be his adopted sons and daughters before we even existed and despite any evil we would do once we did exist. He works this feat through his own incarnation, passion, and resurrection.
    • This predilection is true not just for the apostles and disciples but for every one of the baptized, in fact for every human being who ever did and ever will exist.
      • And this favor is uniquely true about the Blessed Virgin Mary due to her vocation to be the Mother of God. “The Father blessed Mary more than any other created person ‘in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places’ and chose her ‘in Christ before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless before him in love’.” (CCC 492)

Alleluia: Cf. Eph 1:17-18

May the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ enlighten the eyes of our hearts, that we may know what is the hope that belongs to our call.

  • The hope of our vocation is salvation and sanctification. The outcome of God’s saving action is eternal life as children of God.

Gospel: Mk 6:7-13

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 their 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.”
So they went off and preached repentance.
The Twelve drove out many demons,
and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

  • After the Ascension and Pentecost, the Gospel will be in the apostles’ hands. To help prepare them, Jesus sends them out to practice what they have been observing him doing: preaching the Gospel with miraculous power.
  • By going in pairs they could look out for one another: endure any hardships together, protect one another from any harm, avoid loneliness, and discuss their experiences.
  • In these specific instructions Our Lord seems to be saying: don’t be concerned with your material needs but depend entirely on God; your apostolic work is worthy of you accepting people’s support for doing it; and it is a serious thing to reject the Gospel.
  • The apostles “anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.” Here we can see the origin of the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.

Doctrine: All Christians share in Christ’s healing mission

  • The Church was born within the Roman Empire. Although the Romans, drawing on the Greeks, developed the medical arts, people who were sick or defective were typically abandoned, even by their own families. Our Lord introduced something new into human culture. An essential part of the Gospel is the care for and healing of the sick, as we saw in today’s Gospel.
  • The Church has received the charge from the Lord to “Heal the sick!” (CCC 1509). The Church carries this out “by taking care of the sick as well as by accompanying them with her prayer of intercession. She believes in the life-giving presence of Christ, the physician of souls and bodies. This presence is particularly active through the sacraments, and in an altogether special way through the Eucharist, the bread that gives eternal life and that St. Paul suggests is connected with bodily health.” (CCC 1509)
  • “[T]he apostolic Church [had] its own rite for the sick, attested to by St. James: “Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders [presbyters] of the Church and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.” Tradition has recognized in this rite one of the seven sacraments.” (CCC 1509)
  • Caring for the sick is one of the ways that members of the Church proclaim the gospel. This is why members of the Church have built hospitals and nursing facilities, cared for the sick and dying during epidemics, become doctors and other members of the medical field, and personally cared for sick and infirm family members and even strangers, rather than abandoning them. So, we should do everything in our power to comfort the sick and dying, and if possible to heal them.
  • At the same time, in Christ, any personal infirmity can have a great value. As we saw in last Sunday’s readings, St. Paul learned from the Lord that “my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness,” and that the sufferings to be endured can mean that “in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his Body, that is, the Church” (CCC 1508). In other words, infirmity now is not just a natural evil to be endured but also a saving treasure.

Practical application: Caring for the sick

  • Health care workers. It is a noble thing to work in health care. Like being a prophet, it is not just a way of making a living but a way of living the Gospel through service. Currently in the U.S., approximately one in eight people do already.
  • The infirm. When we pass by or enter a Catholic Church, it is good immediately to think of Christ really present in its tabernacle. In a similar way, whenever we pass by or enter a health facility of any kind, we can think of and pray for those who are being treated there, for their families suffering with them, and for all those caring for them, from the custodians up to the surgeons.
  • Accompanying the sick. It is important that those close to us—our family members, friends, neighbors, and co-workers—never feel abandoned when they are sick, injured, or become infirm. There are a thousand ways to show this: by a kind word, a sympathetic look, the offer of help, calling them, driving them somewhere, giving them a rosary, bringing them something to cheer them a bit. This kindness is within everyone’s reach.
  • The Sacraments. If a Catholic is seriously ill, we should see he or she has access to the Sacraments. A deacon or lay person can bring him or her the Eucharist, but only a priest can offer Reconciliation or Anointing of the Sick.
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