15th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle B – 2018
FIRST READING Amos 7:12-15
Amaziah, priest of Bethel, said to Amos, “Off with you, visionary, flee to the land of Judah! There earn your bread by prophesying, but never again prophesy in Bethel; for it is the king’s sanctuary and a royal temple.” Amos answered Amaziah, “I was no prophet, nor have I belonged to a company of prophets; I was a shepherd and a dresser of sycamores. The Lord took me from following the flock, and said to me, Go, prophesy to my people Israel.”
SECOND READING Ephesians 1:3-14
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him. In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ, in accord with the favor of his will, for the praise of the glory of his grace that he granted us in the beloved. In him we have redemption by his blood, the forgiveness of transgressions, in accord with the riches of his grace that he lavished upon us. In all wisdom and insight, he has made known to us the mystery of his will in accord with his favor that he set forth in him as a plan for the fullness of times, to sum up all things in Christ, in heaven and on earth. In him we were also chosen, destined in accord with the purpose of the One who accomplishes all things according to the intention of his will, so that we might exist for the praise of his glory, we who first hoped in Christ. In him you also, who have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and have believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, which is the first installment of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s possession, to the praise of his glory.
GOSPEL Mark 6:7-13
Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits. He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick—no food, no sack, no money in their belts. They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic. He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave. Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them.” So they went off and preached repentance. The Twelve drove out many demons, and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.
My sisters and brothers in Christ,
Today we hear about how God chooses people for particular missions within the Church and about how God chooses all of us who believe to give witness to Him. Far too often we have no sense of being called or a sense that God might be asking something of us. Instead, God calls each one of us and invites us to follow Him and to proclaim His message to others.
The first reading today is from the Prophet Amos. We can almost laugh at ourselves when we speak of him as a prophet. The Prophet Amos tells us: “I was no prophet, nor have I belonged to a company of prophets; I was a shepherd and a dresser of sycamores. The Lord took me from following the flock, and said to me, Go, prophesy to my people Israel.”
Most of us have no sense of being called. We are very much like this Prophet Amos, going about our own business and doing what we have to do to earn our living and get along in life. Amos tells us, however, that he was taken by the Lord from following his flock and told to prophesy to God’s people Israel.
By our baptism, each of us is called to take up this same role and to be priest, king and prophet. We are called to be priests because we are called to intercede for others. We are called to be kings because we are called to serve other. We are called to be prophets because the word of God must be proclaimed by us. We should never confuse this form of priesthood with the ordained priest. Nevertheless it is priesthood because the role of priesthood for all of us, whether ordained or not, is to intercede for others with God. For most of us it is clear that we are not kings in the normal sense of that word, but with an understanding that kingship is really about serving others, then we can recognize that true kingship is given to all who serve others and seek their wellbeing and good. And the role of the prophet is simply to proclaim the word that God has given to us. Prophecy does not come from us but is a matter of our proclaiming the word of God and what it means for our world.
The second reading today is from the Letter to the Ephesians and we are this: “In him we were also chosen, destined in accord with the purpose of the One who accomplishes all things according to the intention of his will, so that we might exist for the praise of his glory, we who first hoped in Christ.” We are called, we have been chosen. Why? For His glory, for the praise of His glory. We can really be transformed when we recognize that each of us is chosen. Faith has not just “happened” to us. No, we have been chosen and must respond to that calling, that choice. We have heard the word of truth, the gospel of our salvation, and have believed in him and have been sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.
We can live our whole lives without recognizing this call. We can live all our lives without recognizing that we have been sealed with the Holy Spirit. Our Scriptures and our Church keep telling us these realities and so often they go over our heads and we don’t understand.
The Gospel of Mark today tells us about the role of the twelve. They are called. They are chosen. They are sent out. They are given a mission. How much easier for us if God only chose them and not us! How much easier for us if only the pope, the bishops and the priests must have responsibilities for preaching and spreading the word of God and the joy of His Church! Instead, we are a chosen people and the pope and the bishops and the priests are only there to serve the whole Church which is all of us.
Perhaps some of us remember before the Second Vatican Council when many of us thought of the Church as basically priests and religious—both religious sisters and brothers. In the Council nothing new was proclaimed. Instead, the Council sought to renew the Church so that all believers could recognize the dignity of one another. Through the Council we were invited to recognize, not as something new but as something that had always been taught but not always understood—that all of us who believe are the Church and that within the Church there are various roles but those roles don’t make anyone better or worse. The roles are just service. We see this teaching already and very clearly in the Apostle Paul.
Today we are invited, each one of us, to recognize our own calling and to seek to know what God asks of us in order to spread the Kingdom. Let us open our hearts and our minds in faith.
Your brother in the Lord,