A reflection for the fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Alessandra Harris reflects on the readings for July 11, 2021.
Catholic Voices

Readings (Year B):

Amos 7:12–15
Psalm 85:9–14
Ephesians 1:3–14
Mark 6:7–13

Reflection: Blessed with a purpose

When a friend told me she was discerning her charisms a few years ago, I have to admit I didn’t know what she was referring to. Recently, I took a course in conjunction with Catherine of Sienna Institute to learn about the twenty-two different charisms and the specific ones God has gifted to me.

Charisms are supernatural spiritual gifts given to people at baptism for the good of the church. Though we all have personal, professional, and vocational goals in life, we often forget that God has also created us for a purpose and mission on earth that will build God’s kingdom.

In today’s first reading, we encounter Amos, who was called for a special purpose. Amos describes himself as a shepherd and a dresser of sycamores before the Lord instructed him to prophecy to the people of Israel. Amos’s message stands as one of the most powerful voices ever to challenge hypocrisy and injustice.

In the second reading, St. Paul tells us that God the Father has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens; God chose us before the foundation of the world to be holy and without blemish. But we know we must not hoard our blessings. God blesses us so we may in turn be a blessing to others. God blesses us with a purpose in mind.


The gospel reading shows that purpose in action as Jesus summons the twelve disciples and sends them out.

As a missionary church, Jesus also wants to send each of us out to accomplish the tasks only we are gifted to do. Though we’re all given particular charisms at baptism, it’s only through our living relationship with God that we’re able to say yes to the presence of God and respond to the Holy Spirit’s call to our mission. Charisms are different from the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit or the twelve fruits of the Holy Spirit in that they are gifts we are meant to give away. As we grow closer to Christ and walk with him, grace is released and our gifts are manifested. We cultivate our gifts over the course of our lives as we deepen our relationship with God, the church, and church teaching.

When we truly use our charisms, we are exceptionally effective and fruitful because God is working through us to do more than we could by ourselves.

I’ve discerned one of my charisms is writing. As an author of novels, co-founder of a Black Catholic media site, and writer, I feel called by God to write on topics of faith, racial justice, and mental health, and have been given the ability by the Holy Spirit to be fruitful and reach others through my words.

The readings this Sunday call each of us to listen, discern, and heed the way God is calling us individually. What charisms do you have that will help you answer that call?


About the author

Alessandra Harris

Alessandra Harris is a writer, author, wife, and mother of four. She earned degrees in comparative religious studies and Middle East studies. Her fourth book, In the Shadow of Freedom: A Catholic Call for Justice, is forthcoming from Orbis Books in Fall 2023.

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