15th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Year B

By sending the Twelve out to heal, Jesus offered a foretaste of his kingdom in which every tear is wiped away and every wound is healed.

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First Reading: Amos 7:12-15

  • This reading links neatly with the first reading from Jeremiah next week: they both deal with corrupt and worldly priests and prophets.
  • As we see from the accounts of Elijah and Elisha, there existed a form of prophetic school where people were trained in the use of prophecy. When Amos here rejects the title of “prophet” he wasn’t denying that he was a prophet in the genuine sense, which he affirms at the end of the passage, but rather that he wasn’t a professional prophet. What does this say about the nature of real prophecy?

Psalm: 84(85):9-14

  • Last week our psalm concentrated on sight, this week we have references to hearing. What is it like to hear from the Lord? Where do we hear his voice?
  • Notice the connection this psalm makes between hearing God’s voice and the qualities of mercy and faithfulness; what can we draw from that?

Second Reading: Ephesians 1:3-14

  • This canticle appears in the Liturgy of the Hours; it’s a beautiful summary, in lyrical form, of the richness of the blessings that have come to us in Christ.
  • This also picks up the theme of hearing and tells us that we have heard the message of the truth and the good news of salvation in and through Jesus. This might help to flesh out our answer to where we hear God’s voice in our lives.

Gospel: Mark 6:7-13

  • Jesus sent the Twelve out in radical poverty and dependence on the providence of God; the only thing he allowed for them was companionship – they travelled in pairs. Reflecting on this, what does it tell us as Christians, about the importance of fellowship in our lives compared with our material needs and possessions?
  • What does it mean that Jesus gave the Twelve authority? What does this reveal about Jesus’ character and nature (remember, this is before Peter’s confession of faith)?


Last week we saw how Jesus was rejected in his hometown of Nazareth, after he stood up in the synagogue there to teach.

Today we see Jesus was undeterred by that experience: he continued his ministry in the nearby villages and extended that ministry by sending out the Twelve.

Mark, then, gives us a snapshot blueprint for evangelisation. When we read over this passage again, we’ll be able to see that the blueprint has 3 core elements:
1. Urging repentance
2. Deliverance
3. Healing

Let’s have a look at each of those briefly, starting with repentance. What do we mean by that?

Real repentance, I think, is like this: it’s sitting in a room with a blindfold on, as the room is engulfed in flames and starts to burn down. Whilst your blindfold is on, you’re blissfully unaware of the danger. Then somebody whips off the blindfold, you see the danger, and you undergo a radical change: you act to save yourself, by running out of the room.

Repentance is that radical shift in attitude and behaviour which comes from a major shift in perspective.

So how does that relate to what Jesus and the Twelve were preaching? As we’ve heard elsewhere in Mark, the fuller version of the message they preached was: repent, for the kingdom of God is near.

In other words, God’s reign is coming: that’s a given. What’s not a given is that you’ll be ready for it when it arrives.

We can keep on living lives that don’t lead to our flourishing or the good of our neighbour, lives that are in bondage to powers of oppression and darkness. Of course, we can keep on down that path if we want to; that’s what Jesus meant when he said: “if they don’t want to hear the message, move on.” Sometimes it’s difficult to be shifted out of our preconceptions and are entrenched worldviews, but there’s no compulsion here.

If someone does listen, though, if they recognise that God is on the move, like Aslan in the Narnia books, and that they need to be ready for his arrival; if they take off the blindfold of life in the world and realise there’s something more, and their habits and actions don’t align with that – then help them to repent: to radically change direction to be ready for God’s arrival.

The other two elements in this process flesh out what God’s coming kingdom is all about.

First, deliverance. It’s an inescapable truth, isn’t it, that for a new kingdom to come the old one has to be removed in some way. The reign of demonic powers, which revel in selfishness and dominating human lives, has to be brought to an end. So we see Jesus and the Twelve driving those heralds of the kingdom of darkness out of people. Jesus gave the Twelve “authority” over them: in other words, their kingdom is no match for God’s.

Secondly, healing. God’s kingdom isn’t just about driving out the kingdom of darkness for the sake of it. As we said above, the present age is characterised by oppression and pain and domination.

God’s coming kingdom is marked by healing and wholeness and wellness. By sending the Twelve out to heal, Jesus was offering a foretaste of the fullness of his kingdom in which every tear is wiped away and every wound is healed.

So here’s a blueprint for evangelisation: repentance, deliverance, and healing. Those elements are core to how we understand the gospel, and how we present it to others.


  • Pope St. Paul VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi
  • Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium
  • Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction on Prayers for Healing