Sunday, July 12, 2015

15th Sunday Ordinary Time - Mark 6: 7-13 - "Blessed and Sent"

Today we hear of the prophet Amos, a messenger sent by God to warn the people of Israel to turn away from their corrupt ways.  At this time the land of Israel was divided into two kingdoms, Judah in the south and Israel in the north.  While Judah was poor and humble, Israel was rich and powerful.  With their vast wealth and power came corruption and wanton living.  In their social depravity they worshipped many gods of their own making, turning away from the Law of the One True God.

The people of Israel lived in a land of plenty; sharing its bounty only among the rich and powerful.  They built temples to their own gods and created festivals and feasts to celebrate those things they held in high esteem – wealth and pleasure, fortified by sacrilegious practices.  They exploited the poor and sold them into slavery.  They created unjust laws that benefited their luxuriant ways of life, betraying the innocent and powerless; having no pity on the lowly, especially those who without a voice.

Into this land of Israel the Lord sent His servant Amos.  Now, Amos was a simple man, a commoner who tended sheep and dressed sycamores (someone who, with a sharp stick, pierces the hard shell surrounding the small fig-like fruit of the sycamore tree, so they will ripen).  Amos was not a scholar of the Law or an experienced teacher, but he was a just man: faithful and obedient servant of the Lord.  

Amos came to the king of Israel’s high priest, Amaziah, to warn the king and the people to turn away from their corrupt ways and unacceptable practices.  He admonished them for their injustices to the poor and marginalized and their worship practices that were offensive to God.

For Amos’ preaching to the people to turn back to God and to, “. . . let justice flow like water and integrity like an unfailing stream.” Amaziah accuses Amos of plotting against the king and of being a prophet in the pay of one of the king’s enemies.  He denounces Amos; ordering him to leave the land of Israel, to go prophesy in his own land of Judah and cease haranguing the people of Israel.  

Amos counters Amaziah’s accusations and command to leave, telling him that he is a just and simple man, a humble servant of the Lord and that it was God himself who sent Amos to Israel, saying, “Go, prophesy to my people, Israel.”

Just as God sent Amos to the people of Israel, Jesus sends his disciples to preach among the people.  He sends them out two by two, on their first foray into a hostile world; warning them to take nothing extra, no food, no sack, no money – no second tunic, but only a walking stick and sandals on their feet.  They are to accept the hospitality of those who welcome them and shake the dust off their feet against those who will not accept their message of repentance of their sins.  

In doing so, Jesus echoes the encounter of Amos in the land of Israel.  His disciples are to be God’s messengers, simple and humble.  They are to have no attachments or burdens; relying solely upon God’s mercy for all their needs - for He will provide, as they go about preaching His word of repentance, healing the sick and casting out demons in His name.  
"For they are blessed by God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,who has blessed them in Christwith every spiritual blessing in the heavens,as he chose them in him, before the foundation of the world,to be holy and without blemish before him." 
We too have our commission and blessing from God, as his chosen ones: To make known His love for all His children and His gift of salvation through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus.   We are to rely on God’s love and mercy; taking nothing with us except His Word and the love with which we are loved, as we go about bringing His Good News to all the world.

God chooses the weak things of the world to humble the mighty in making his kingdom known.  We each, as disciples of our Lord, Jesus, are blessed and sent, like Amos and the ‘Twelve’, to “Go, prophesy to my people Israel.” We are called to speak the Word of God in faith and truth, with simplicity and humbleness of heart, His message of repentance of sins and His gift of salvation through His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Today, we are called to speak out God’s Word in a hard-hearted and sinful world, as did Amos, the ‘Twelve’ and all God’s messengers throughout the ages.  We faithful disciples of the Lord are called and blessed by God to speak His Truth, His Love and His desire for all His people so they may cling to Him in this world, and so they may take their rightful place in His kingdom of peace and everlasting life. ~ Amen


Deacon Don

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