Amos 7:12-15/ Psalm 85/Ephesians 1:3-14/ Mark 6:7-13
The readings for today invite us to reflect on what might happen if the bringer of the gospel draws financial advantages from his preaching. The first reading shows us the prophet Amos, who tells us that money is a great danger for freedom of the prophet who announces the Word of God. The gospel lists the instructions of Jesus to his disciples. They must avoid even the smallest suspicion that they may be working for their own economic advantage. The second reading speaks of the gratuity of the love of our Father and is an invitation to share gratuitously with others the gifts we have received. The readings for this Sunday invite us to reflect on the mission 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 his time were aware of the role of a prophet as one who speaks for God. Amos, therefore, speaks against the evil forces and values of his time. 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 false priests that it is God who called him from nowhere, and God will protect him.
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…” (Ephesians 1:4). 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. This is also the reason why God created every other person. Becoming a believer does not change the purpose of our creation rather it helps us realise it. Today, as we celebrate with Paul the amazing grace that we enjoy in Christ, let us pray and work that all humankind may come to know Christ and realise the purpose of their creation just as we have done.
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 sins; the recognition that my sins have hurt me, other people and God. Repentance opens up the doors for 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 lives, 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” no credit card in their wallets, with sandals and without a spare tunic. In other words, they are to be totally dependent on God.
The apostles are to witness to the Good News by their speech (Mk 6:12) and action (Mk 6:13). Eventually, let the listeners exercise their own free will to make a choice towards the Kingdom of God. “And if any place does not welcome you and people refuse to listen to you, as you walk away shake off the dust under your feet as evidence to them” (Mk 6:11). The apostles are not responsible for the obstinancy among their listeners. The gesture was only to show the people that they were making a wrong choice. But the apostles are to move on (see Acts 13:50-51). There is no need for discouragement. Individual freedom is to be respected. “He, who has ears to hear, let him hear” (Mk 4:9, 23; 7:16).
It is said that “Goodness is attractive in itself, only what is bad has to keep imposing itself!” For sure, the goodness of the Gospel needs to be proclaimed and witnessed to, but it does not have to be aggressively imposed. Aggressiveness – physical or psychological – could be a counter-value. It could be an expression of the insecurity of the believers. Evangelisation – proclamation of the love of God – by its very nature cannot take a tone of imposition, threat, and condemnation.What message do we take home this Sunday?
1) Just as Amos is chosen and sent to confront the idolatry of the people of Israel, 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 ministers in various services in the Church, we need to “travel light”; without material or spiritual baggage! Think about it.
In conclusion, the opening prayer for today’s Mass speaks volumes to us in the work of evangelisation when it says “O God, who show the light of your truth to those who go astray, so that they may return to the right path, give all who for the faith they profess are accounted Christians the grace to reject whatever is contrary to the name of Christ and strive after all that does it honour…” May our calling to witness to Christ be authentic and selfless.