15th Sunday of Ordinary Time ~ 11 July 2021 ~ Bible Readings for Mass: I: Amos 7: 12-15; Responsorial: Psalm 85; II: Ephesians 1: 3-14. Gospel: Mark 6: 7-13
The theme, the lesson from our Scripture readings today is quite simple and clear. It shares the truth of the calling from God of a prophet, and the apostles to go and proclaim the Gospel of Christ, the Good News. It is the lesson of the essential place, plan, and power of the proclamation of God’s call to repentance, mercy, and healing, in Christ. The Greek word, kerygma, to proclaim, is used to teach this vital truth of genuine Christian faith.
When Christians think or speak of the holy calling of God, or vocations, it is often focused or relegated to priests, ministers or specific religious vocations such as a Carmelite nun, or Franciscan monk. It is sometimes applied to aspects of life, such as the calling of marriage, to be a spouse or parent. Each of those perceptions is correct. But often it is in this effort to organize and specify the grace of God’s calling we may actually project the grace upon others and away from ourselves. There is a long litany of saints who, perhaps initially, felt a calling from God in their lives was not going to happen. The reasons may have been a sincere realization of unworthiness or also sincere fear of what listening to God may bring. And of course, for some saints, there was a real desire to pursue what the world was offering instead of what God would bring, such as St. Augustine.
The Scriptures for this Sunday provide us powerful insight into the gift of God Calling. The Old Testament reading from the Book of Amos shares how the prophet did not see himself as a prophet. He was, simply a shepherd and farmer. He was not from the school of prophets. In the vernacular of today, Amos would have a profoundly inadequate and inappropriate resume for the job of a prophet. But, God called Amos to go and proclaim the message of repentance and hope in following God.
St. Paul, in our second reading, from the Epistle to the Ephesians shares his deep faith and understanding that it was Jesus Christ who was calling and empowering him to share with the faithful in Ephesus. For Paul it wasn’t about him but about the proclaiming of the truth of who we are as the redeemed of God, who we are as disciples following Christ.
And the Gospel shares the short, but intense, sending out of the twelve apostles by Jesus to the surrounding communities. Working in pairs they shared the Good News. They healed the sick and set free those possessed by demons. They lived out the Gospel they shared.
These accounts might bring us to join with those who think that God’s Calling applies to those special people, the saints Christ chooses to do great works for Him. And in doing so we may try to comfortably avoid hearing the great gift that indeed, for each of us…God is Calling.
The Word of God, the history, and the teachings of the church all affirm it is all the people of God whom Jesus would call. While some are called to profound and great tasks for His Kingdom we cannot forget the simpler vocations that helped them hear God’s voice. The parents, the siblings, the people in their parish all can be a significant part in hearing and responding to God’s plan in life. (Sadly the opposite can be true. Many a vocation to the will of God has been thwarted or hindered by voices of doubt, ridicule, and fear.). The influence of family and parish in the ability of St. Teresa of Calcutta to hear God’s Call would be a blessed example.
For all responding to God’s Call to live a life proclaiming the hope and healing mercy of Christ there are key steps in the journey.
It is God who calls and chooses for the work of the Kingdom. We may well realize our inadequacy, inabilities our weaknesses. Yet if we allow our hearts to be taught and reminded by the Holy Spirit we will see that God chooses, God calls us, beyond ourselves, and in spite of our faults, to follow with those who listen, hear and say…Yes to God. We may look at someone’s life and say..”no, God can’t call them. They are not as they should be”. But it actually is God who is calling and saying, “That soul, indeed with their faults and brokenness, I can redeem and enable to be an humble servant for me.” The Call is for God to make. It is for us to respond. One way or another.
As God calls so God will prepare. It is as we say yes to God we learn that with our Lord nothing is wasted. The Holy Spirit will use our talents, gifts, and abilities. But God will also use our failures, our weakness, those parts of life that seem all out of order, to become that specific servant, daughter, or son He needs in His work. The sinful doubt of Thomas Jesus used to both reveal to Thomas His resurrection but also to all people of faith ever since. The fiery zeal and murderous errors of Saul of Tarsus the Spirit of God would bring through the reconciling Blood of Christ to send out the Apostle to the Gentiles. So it is with each of us. Whether we think we are too young or too old, too strong, or too weak, with Christ we will be freed to proclaim Christ our life.
So… God Calls, God prepares and God then sends us out… to experience His Presence and power as we never have before. As we allow our hearts to hear God’s Call, as we give Him our Yes and experience the Holy Spirit preparing us for what lies ahead we can know the hand of the Crucified upon us. Always. Jesus will lead us where, when, to whom we should go. And as we face each step, each opportunity to proclaim His Kingdom we can know His enabling, promised power, when and where we need it. St. Mother Teresa would never have known the immense graces and blessing in Calcutta if she had not said yes to God. The farmer / Prophet Amos would never have known the holy adventure that God had for him until he said yes to the Holy Spirit. The twelve apostles would never have experienced the healings, the deliverances in their ministry until they would be sent out by God.
Christ Calls, each of us, to follow Him. The path may not be easy or even clear all the time. But that is ok. It is in the hardness of the journey, it is when we can’t see the way, that we draw closer to Christ, to better learn to listen and follow… God’s Call.