Life & Soul

Word this week

Jesus and His disciples, by Rembrandt

The 15th Sunday of the Year
Amos 7:12-15; Eph 1:3-14; Mk 6:7-13 (Year B)

“Go away, seer, get back to the land of Judah. We want no more prophesying in Bethel: this is the royal sanctuary, the national shrine.”

The prophet Amos was clearly an unwelcome visitor to Israel’s northern kingdom. His stubborn denunciation of a corrupt kingdom that manipulated wealth to the detriment of the poor was still less welcome. The local inequalities that he denounced in the 8th-century BC have become the global inequalities that contribute to famine and war in our own generation. If, like the prophet Amos, we are to become a voice that cries out for justice, our voice must be rooted in the Lord, who is love and justice. “It was the Lord who took me from herding the flock, and who said, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.”

Amos was more than a social reformer. In mind and heart he was held in the hand of a compassionate Lord who welcomed the stranger and rejoiced in the poor.

As Amos had been sent to prophesy, so Jesus commissioned the Twelve. The authority that they would bring to their mission lay not in themselves, but in the communion that they shared with their Lord. Thus they were to take nothing for the journey, no bread, no haversack, no coppers for their purses. Their poverty was to become the vessel of the Lord’s presence.

How do we prepare to respond to the Lord’s call that we should become his witnesses in our own time? If, like St Paul, we feel that we have little to offer of ourselves, we should be encouraged by the strength that he found in the Father’s love. “Blessed be the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Before the world was made, he chose us, chose us in Christ, to live through love in his presence.”

Paul was overwhelmed with a graciousness whose span was beyond his imagining. “Such is the richness of the grace that he has showered on us in all wisdom and insight. He has let us know the mystery of his purpose, that he would bring everything together under Christ as head, everything in the heavens and everything on earth.”

Like the Apostles on their first mission, we must set forth in true poverty of spirit. We must allow ourselves to be held and nourished in the presence of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Such was the grace at the heart of Paul’s Good News.