July 12: Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B
Readings: Amos 7:12-15; Ephesians 1:3-14; Mark 6:7-13
The readings of this Sunday invite us to reflect on the missionary vocation of the Church. The Church is called not only to proclaim the Good News of salvation realized in Jesus Christ and offered to all, but also to boldly confront the evil forces of this world. In the first reading, the prophet Amos is sent by the Lord to Bethel to preach against the evil lifestyle of the priests because they misled the people by worshiping a calf. In this reading the Lord told Amos, “Go, prophesy to my people Israel.” He is called upon to speak the word of God as a prophet. People of the time were aware of the role of a prophet. A prophet is one who speaks for God and and at times like Amos to speak against the evils forces and values of the world. Amos would have spoken against the king and the priest of the place, Amaziah tells him that the king is angry with him and he is likely to kill him. It is better that he flee for safety in Judah. In contrast the false prophets praised the king and justified their acts and received their reward and their earnings. But Amos underscores the call of God. He tells the priests that it is God who called him from nowhere and God will protect him. God has asked him to speak God’s word; the word of truth and that he is bound to speak. Paul reminds us in the Second reading that to be a Christian is to belong to God. "Before the world was made, he chose us, chose us in Christ, to be holy and spotless...". If we belong to God in Christ, we cannot serve other masters. We must make a choice and remain faithful.
In the Gospel episode Jesus sends the twelve with authority over unclean spirits. He sends them to proclaim a message of repentance. Repentance is a sorrow for our sins - a recognition that my sins have hurt me, other people and God. Repentance opens up the doors of God's loving mercy and forgiveness. When people listened and repented, the Apostles could then drive out demons and cure illnesses by anointing the sick with oil. When we repent and pray, wonderful things happen in our families, our parish and our world. This message of repentance is urgent. To underscore the urgency, Jesus “instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick - no food, no sack, no money” in their wallets, with sandals and without a spare tunic. In other words, they belong to Christ and thus they must be totally dependent on divine providence. What is the message? 1) Just as God sent Amos with a severe message to the priests and leaders of his day, the Church through us is sent to confront today's worship of false gods; 2) Just as Jesus sent his apostles to proclaim repentance and to heal the sick, Jesus sends us into our communities to bring about God’s loving mercy, compassion and healing; 3) A third message is that worldly possessions never become an excessive worry or an obstacle to proclaiming the Gospel because Christ who sends us will provide. 4) Through our Baptism, we are called and sent on this same mission that must be accompanied by boldness through prayerful faithfulness to Christ.
©2009 John M. Mbinda