Our first reading today tells of Amos, one of the earlier prophets. He appears at a time of affluence in Israel, but he knew that this prosperity was for the few at the expense of the many. He was tolerated as long as he spoke of the sins of the other nations. So when he challenges the corruption of Israel itself, he is attacked as an interfering foreigner. Amaziah, the priest of Bethel (the national shrine), tries to silence Amos and tells him to be off with himself! He cannot see any corruption in his own royal court. Amos reminds him that he is not a member of any prophetic sect – he is only a shepherd and looks after sycamores. But God has called him to speak his Word and proclaim the truth, even if he is less than qualified.
St Paul’s letter to the Ephesians with the Jewish form of a prayer of blessing; we bless and thank God because of the love and wisdom shown in creation and in Jesus Christ. Christ gives creation its meaning. God has chosen us from all eternity to be his children. This is the Good News that we have been given and carry in our lives. We are part of God’s family because ‘we have been stamped with the seal of the Holy Spirit’. Our task then is to praise and serve God.
St Mark’s tells of the sending out of the disciples. They have been with Jesus for some time, so now they need to go out and proclaim his Word and ministry. Jesus’ first order to them concerns their luggage. In fact it is a list of what they are NOT to take with them – no bread, no haversack, no money, no spare tunic – just a staff and sandals! They are to go in pairs. They have authority over unclean spirits and cast out devils; they are to preach repentance and heal the sick.
These are very clear and basic instructions from Jesus. How can we learn from this formula given by Jesus? We can see from our three readings today, a threefold development path: from HESITATION, to AFFIRMATION, to TRANSFORMATION. Amos was reluctant; Paul often spoke about him being the ‘least of the Apostles; and the Apostles themselves were very unsure of themselves until the first Pentecost. But yet all set out to do God’s work. We too may feel inadequate, ill-prepared, unworthy and incapable of proclaiming Jesus’ message … but we go out and live in his name and power. We keep in mind St Paul’s words of last week: “It’s is when I am weak, I am strong”. That’s all for now. Have a good week. Fr Joe.