Thursday, July 12, 2018

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B


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

In him we were… chosen; gifted and sent by God; sent two by two, commissioned with authority to participate in the ministry of Jesus. The readings this Sunday invite us to reflect on the missionary vocation of the Church and our ministry received through baptism. 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 and leaders because they misled the people by worshipping a golden 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 at times like Amos speaks against the evil forces and values of the world. There is a sharp contrast between the message of Amaziah the false prophet of Bethel who praises the king, and prophet Amos who 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. In brief, Amos is chosen and sent by God, while Amaziah is a hired figure paid and controlled by the king. 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...". Yes, but also to be his instruments; his ministers; engaged in working for the kingdom. 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 commissions and sends the twelve with authority over unclean spirits. He sends them to proclaim a message of repentance. Repentance is sorrow for our sins; the 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 can 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 are to be totally dependent on God. What is the message? 1) Just Amos is chosen and sent to confront the idolatry of the people of his time, the you and I are chosen and sent to confront today’s worship of false gods. 2) Just as Jesus sends his apostles to proclaim repentance and to heal the sick, Jesus sends us into our communities to proclaim God’s message of mercy, compassion and healing. 3) Material possessions should never become an obstacle to proclaiming the Gospel because Christ who sends us will provide. In other words as disciples of Christ and minister in various services in the life of the Church, we need to “travel light” without material or spiritual baggage!

©2018 John M. Mbinda

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