A Reflection for the 15th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year B).
Amos 7:12-15 – Ephesians 1:3-14 – Mark 6:7-13.
A while ago, a brother priest told me a story about the beginning of his journey to the priesthood. During the interview preceding his admission to seminary, one of the questions put to him was why he wanted to train for the priesthood. He answered that he wanted to save his soul and those of other people. The priest interviewing him acknowledged that that was indeed a worthy objective. “Every interviewee says that” he said gently, “but you haven’t answered my question. I asked you why you feel you have a vocation to the priesthood. It’s undeniable that it’s perfectly possible for you to save your soul and those of others without becoming a priest, isn’t it?” He made a good point, and it may be helpful to us as we reflect today, because each one of us has been called by God to win souls for Him… beginning with our own!
From the 1st reading we learn that Amaziah – a priest of Beth-El, the royal ‘house of God’ in the Northern Kingdom of Israel (Gen 12:8) – wasn’t happy when Amos – a mere shepherd and forester from the Southern Kingdom of Judah – informed him of his (Amos’s) call by God to Go, prophesy to my people [of] Israel (v.15). Amos’s prophetic mission was to alert the people of God to their sinfulness, to repent of their sins, and to live a life of righteousness thereafter.
In the Gospel reading, Jesus sent the twelve apostles out on mission in pairs to preach repentance, and He armed them with the powers of healing and deliverance (v.13).
Dear friends in Christ, today is about you and me being called by God as Amos was, and as the Twelve were, to win souls for Him through the distinctive ministries to which He has called us. As Amos and the Twelve were chosen and called to carry out specific missions, so are we. We are not perfect, but then no-one but God is! We may feel that we lack what it takes to live out a fulfilling missionary life in our locality, but feelings can be unreliable, and in any case God would not call us to a mission if he hadn’t already equipped us with the necessary gifts to carry it out successfully. Remember that when Amaziah tried to pull rank over him and dispatch him back home to Judah, Amos observed that he wasn’t from any of the brotherhoods of prophets (v.14). What Amos meant by that was, that although he was lacking the social stature and badges of authority the Israelite hierarchy expected to see in a prophet, yet he had to be about that duty because God had called him to it. The apostles of Jesus were a mixed bunch with assorted failings and frailties, yet Jesus sent them out on mission armed only with the little they had learnt from Him and with miraculous gifts for the people. We are not perfect either, but we all receive the same call: to help to save souls. We are the Chosen.
The life of the Chosen:
In the 2nd reading St Paul, while blessing God, mentioned what the life of the Chosen should be like. God has chosen us (1) to be holy and spotless, (2) to live in love in God’s presence,
(3) to praise the glory of His grace, and (4) to know the mystery of His purpose embodied in Christ.
Can you see the similarity between the above and what the Catechism tells us about why God created us? The CCC (quoting St Ignatius of Loyola) reminds us that God created us to know Him, to love Him and serve Him in this world, and be with Him in the glory of the everlasting world to come.
The mission of the Chosen: It is through the lives of the Chosen that the divine mission is carried out. The message of the Gospel flows out into the world from our personal way of life. As the Chosen, our mission is to bear the messages of God’s love for every human being without exception, and of the need for their repentance from sin in order to bring about reconciliation with Him and their subsequent healing. We can begin our mission at home, extend it to our peers and thence to more people like ripples in a pond. We can accomplish this in the little things we do and say while we are with them. We are all sent to disseminate God’s love in the world, and to help those going astray to find God and to return to Him.
Obstacles to this Mission: We need to be conscious of obstacles with the potential to prevent us from living out the Christian life effectively, and to be on the lookout for obstacles capable of distracting us from attaining our objective. Maybe we will encounter people like Amaziah who belittle us in an attempt to divert us from our mission. Maybe you have already encountered people who ridicule our living out the life of the gospel, or who try to convince us that other philosophies of life are equally valid. We may experience rejection, but we must shake off the dust from under your feet (v.11) and keep on moving forward. Living out the Christian vocation is not a bed of roses, and it rarely brings material reward, but the reward it does bring us is the hope of the ultimate salvation of our soul and of the souls of other people.