THE FAITH DELUSION? How to explain faith in the modern age with Fr John Moffatt SJ A 3-day course for priests, religious and...
This week the theme from last Sunday continues but there is an additional, vital, addition. The
OLD TESTAMENT READING [AMOS 7: 12 – 15] tells us “the Lord took me … said to me … go, prophesy to my people, Israel.” OUR NEW TESTAMENT EXTRACT [EPHESIANS 1: 3 – 14] says “he chose us … destined us … bestowed on us … according to his purpose … appointed.” TODAY’S GOSPEL [MARK 6: 7 – 13] records that “Jesus … began to send them out … gave them authority … so they went out.”
How can we possibly escape from the fact that we have been called to the ministry of ‘speaking’ to others even if our ‘speech’ is silence and often the words of action
The effective sponges are those that absorb in order to give out.
It is also important to note that both in the Amos reading as well as the Gospel there is again a clear reference to those who will oppose and reject what we ‘speak’. Amos is told, very bluntly, to
“go, flee away … never again prophesy at Bethel.” Hear, also the advice Jesus gives to those he sends – “if any place will not receive you and they refuse to hear you … leave …
shake off the dust.”
We should never be afraid or disillusioned by opposition and apparent disinterest. Even a cursory reading of the Gospel narratives will show that Jesus never allowed himself to become despondent. He planted the seed and left the results to the Father. As
TODAY’S PSALM [85 or 84] emphasises: “the Lord will bestow his bounty.” His bounty is not always immediate or visible to us. Here it is helpful to recall one of the parables recorded by Matthew [13: 4 – 9] which outlines the various responses to the sowing of the seed. Also, today Saint Paul speaks of the “plan for the fullness of time … according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things.” We become despondent far too easily.
Our call is simply to ‘speak’, to sow the seed. No more nor less ….. and to persevere.
However, we must not overlook the honest message given by Amos in his public self-evaluation –
“I am no prophet, nor a prophet’s son; but I am a herdsman, and a dresser of sycamore trees …. and the Lord took me … go prophesy to my people.” We do not need to be ordained members of the clergy, a bishop or a pope. In fact we do not need to have a degree in theology or scripture. Anyone who is baptised and confirmed has been, like Amos, TAKEN BY THE LORD AND SENT. Again, look at the different narratives of the Gospel, and see that the men and women ‘taken’ by Jesus were, in the majority, very ordinary, simple, and assuming. Each and every one of us have been taken and sent. We should never excuse ourselves from real involvement in the ministry of planting seeds … planting in and on the path of our lives.
I want to emphasise two points. Firstly, the concept that we have been taken by God: he
IS our God, and we ARE his people. WE BELONG TO EACH OTHER. In some real way we are, as the saying goes, joined at the hip. We need to see God-in-Christ not as some remote ‘power’ who rewards and punishes, but as a living alter-ego who walks with us no matter how ‘good’ or ‘bad’ we may think we are.
, see the Gospel message as asking us to travel lightly. Possessions are not the real issue here. Rather, it is a call for us to stick to the essentials. Our ‘speaking’ should not be burdened with personal ‘devotions’ or ‘customs’ which cloud the real issues.