As we continue to accompany Mark’s record of the Gospel there is a need for us to always keep in mind his plan of presenting the Lord as the lion of Judah. The first essential is to recall the opening words of his account. “Here begins the good news of Jesus Christ the son of God.” the good news of the gospel is Jesus Christ. The two are inseparable. It is impossible to know and believe in Jesus without knowing the believing in his message, the gospel-good news. In addition, this ‘good news-Jesus’ is the Son of God – the lion of Judah. All of this requires a specific choice from each one of us. The next step is to bear in mind that mark builds his narrative around a journey – the journey to Jerusalem. As mentioned in our reflection for the tenth Sunday, as the journey progressed, on three separate occasions Jesus made it clear to the disciples that at their destination he would endure his passion, death,

And resurrection. The first past of these predictions his followers found so difficult to accept that they remained oblivious to the final outcome. We must never lose sight of the fact that no life journey is free from some sort of pain which calls for endurance. At the same time no life is devoid of resurrection experiences. We tend to remember and dwell on the ‘down events’ and fail to recall the ‘ups’.
So, today’s scriptures focus on personal choices – the choices of God-in-Christ as well as the honest discernment of our personal resources.

First of all we need to accept, as a basic, that God takes the initiative when it comes to choosing and sending people. We have seen that john the baptist was chosen and sent. “You will be the lord’s forerunner to prepare his way.”

{see luke 1: 76} the disciples were chosen by Jesus. Today’s old testament reading [amos 7: 12 – 15] makes it clear that amos was chosen and sent. “The lord took me from following the flock … Said to me, ‘go prophesy to my people’.” there is a splendid connection between amos and the baptist – both were chosen (called) and sent for a specific purpose. Today we see a further connection between Amos and Jesus’ disciples.

Our Gospel extract [mark 6: 7 – 13] tells us that “Jesus called to him the twelve and began to send them out.” amos had no special qualifications for the task to which he was sent. “I am no prophet, nor a prophet’s son … I am a herdsman … A dresser of sycamore trees … The lord took me … And said … Go.” the twelve, at that stage, had no special talents or expertise. Nevertheless the lord began with what he had in hand – what he had chosen. These were the men he had taken. He gave them his authority. Of course we know that some of them ‘began’ to think that it was their authority. This was a mistake that neither amos nor john the baptist made. Here there is a lesson for all of us (clerical and lay) involved in leadership roles.

Our New testament extract [ephesians 1: 3 – 14] tells us that we are all chosen. The Father “Has blessed us in Christ … He chose us.” this blessing is a gift “According to the purpose of his will.” this choice and blessing are not focussed on me. I am blessed in Christ for his purpose. I am a part of the Father’s plan. The plan is not mine. The Lord has taken me. Through me he has begun to achieve one small, further stage forward – provided I do not attempt to ‘take over’ the reins of control. It is, as our psalm [85 or 84] emphasises the Lord who bestows the bounty.
However, both the Gospel and Amos readings emphasise that no special or particular personal ability or talent is required. God’s choice and sending are the imperatives. He begins with what is available. Mark tells us that ”

He charged them to take nothing with them.” the details of this order are not to be interpreted in material terms. Yet, it is made clear that they are not to expect or seek five star lodging – nor meals at a michelin restaurant. The message is simple – take people as they are … Proclaim the message, do the basics, and move on. Amos was told to do so by the very people who were antagonistic to his message. The twelve were told to expect much the same.
I should never make the mistakes of either excusing myself from the mission because ‘I am unqualified’ or ‘stay put’ and flog a dead horse.

I myself am not an essential ingredient. The Lord is capable of making alternative plans. However, he has chosen and sent me.

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