A Reflection by Sr. Ursula Herrera, OSB
Here we are post Easter and Pentecost. Spring is almost over, and summer will soon begin. We are now in ordinary time. But, it is anything but ordinary. To this day we are still dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, which has paralyzed so many people. Fear of getting sick is keeping folks from ministering to their neighbor. Yet, we just celebrated Pentecost where the disciples gained wisdom and strength to go out and preach the gospel in different languages. It was the Spirit that Jesus had promised to send that guided them forth when fear was keeping them from their ministry. This month we will be hearing Mark’s Gospel to see how Jesus is preparing his disciples, and ultimately us, to do our mission on earth.
The first Sunday of June, Jesus explains that the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed. When the seed is planted, it is the smallest of all seeds. “But, once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches…” (Mark 4:32) We are a part of this kingdom and should be putting out our branches to provide shade (shelter) to those whom God sends our way.
The second Sunday of June, Jesus is preparing his disciples for the spirit when He met with them in the upper room for the Passover where he ate with them and gave them of Himself saying, “Take it; this is my body.” Then He took a cup and said, “This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many.” (Mark 14: 22-24) By giving of himself, Jesus is preparing the disciples for the work He has set out for them. As we are fed by Jesus, so too, must we go forth to provide food for those in need.
The third Sunday, the disciples were out at sea and fearful of drowning; they called on Jesus who was asleep in the boat. Jesus awoke and calmed the wind and the sea. The disciples “were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this whom even the wind and sea obey?” (Mark 4: 41) We too must believe that God will not let us drown. He will be protecting us. We do not go blindly however, but protect ourselves as we go out to do God’s work.
The forth Sunday, the disciples kept seeing the miracles Jesus was performing but they were not totally convinced of his powers and sensitivity. When He asked who had touched him in the midst of a crowd, the disciples were incredulous saying, “You see how the crowd is pressing upon you and yet you ask, ‘who touched me?’” (Mark 5:31) We too, are called to be sensitive to our neighbor’s needs.
The pandemic has slowed us down in meeting our neighbor’s needs, but it cannot stop us. We now have ways to protect ourselves such as vaccinations, face masks, and social distancing. We cannot let fear stop us from fulfilling our mission on earth. Christ has showed us the way and the Spirit has given us the courage and strength to carry on with our work on earth, especially helping our neighbor. These words take me back to a pastor who came to bring clothing to our asylum seekers. He said the clothes were intended for a church in Eagle Pass, but when they did not respond, he prayed, and God sent him to us. He said, “After all, our neighbor is anyone God places in our path.”