Thursday, July 9, 2015

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B

Readings: Amos 7:12-15; Ephesians 1:3-14; Mark 6:7-13

The readings this Sunday focus on the fourth sign of a dynamic Catholic, evangelization. “Transforming people one at a time is at the heart of God’s plan for the world.” Proclamation and transformation are the key words that help to capture the message of this Sunday. The readings invite us to reflect on how God through the Church continually transforms people one a time. The Church is called and sent to proclaim the Good News of salvation and to boldly confront the evil forces of this world. In the first reading, the prophet Amos is sent by the Lord to Bethel to confront the evil lifestyle of the priests and leaders, because they have misled the people by worshipping idols. In this reading the Lord told Amos, “Go, prophesy to my people Israel.” While Amos is called upon to speak the Word of God as a prophet, by contrast the false prophets of Bethel were hired and paid to praise the king. Amos is called by God to speak God’s word; the word of truth. He is therefore 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..." The point is that since we belong to God in Christ, we must choose Christ and remain faithful.

In the Gospel Jesus sends the twelve with authority over unclean spirits. The purpose of their mission is twofold. He sends them first to proclaim repentance; to transform the people through repentance so that they may open up their hearts for God's loving mercy and forgiveness. The second purpose for their mission is to drive out demons and cure illnesses by anointing the sick with oil, and so offer them the best way to live. The lesson here is that inner transformation leads to the best way to live. When we repent and pray, wonderful things can happen in our families, our parish and our world. This message of transformation 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 need to travel light without baggage. They must be totally dependent on divine providence. Material possessions must not be an obstacle to their ministry of proclaiming the Word and transforming people. So what message do we take home this Sunday? 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 idol worship. 2) Just as Jesus sent his apostles to proclaim repentance and transform people by healing the sick, so too Jesus sends us to transform people by leading them to the best way to live. 3) As disciples and stewards we challenged to travel light so that worldly possessions would not be an obstacle to proclaiming the Gospel because Christ who sends us will provide.

©2015 John S. Mbinda

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