Why is Amaziah so upset with Amos? Whether we preach on the first reading or not, I am sure people in the pews will hear it and not have a clue what it is saying. Am I being too pessimistic? Well, I admit, I didn't know much about it myself on my first reading.
We are in the 8th century before the Christian era and Amaziah is the priest in the courts of the king. It is a time of peace and prosperity for Israel and the rich feel quite secure. It is also a time of decadence, the people are ignoring the covenant God made with them. Amaziah is telling the court just what it wants to hear and he, with so many others, has given up on God, relying on the powers of the government for security. Amos is a shepherd and dresser of sycamores. Apparently sycamores in the Middle East bear a simple fruit that, in order to be edible, requires a dressing of the tree. Someone who knows how to nip buds was needed to get better fruit. (How's that for an image of a prophet!) The fruit was also the food of the poor.
So, Amos does not come out of the court, nor is he a prophet from the organized religion. He is rough hewn and says he is the champion of the Lion of Judah (1:2). Amos has been having his prophetic visions and the text today, the encounter between him and Amaziah, is a break in these visions. Amaziah wants Amos out of town. Amos protests that he did not choose to be a prophet, but that God chose him. Nor does he have anything to do with other prophets. His message will be received for its own worth and not that of any official, or public office. One can see why this reading was chosen to go with the gospel of the day – the message is what counts and God chooses the messengers God wants to convey it.
You can see why the Amos reading was chosen today to blend with Mark’s account of Jesus’ sending of the Twelve to preach and heal. Like them, Amos was an ordinary person whom God chose to represent and preach God’s message. He wasn’t highly educated; that’s not the primary requisite to be a spokesperson for God. If it were, Amos, the Twelve and other prophetic voices, would not have been chosen – and we would not have been the poorer without their voices.
Which makes us ask: have we experienced God speaking to us in our daily lives, calling us to act, or speak up for God’s ways in our world? According to both Testaments God has a habit of calling on plain, ordinary people. like us, to speak God’s message and do God’s work.
Our second reading from Ephesians has a similar message. We are people chosen by God and equipped with special gifts and particular tasks. Ephesians is not saying that we have been programmed from all eternity without regard for our freedom. We are free to choose; to say "yes" or "no" to God’s invitation to serve. It is not about predestination – some of us chosen to be saved, others not. Not that kind of predestination. Rather, we have chosen to know Christ and his salvation. In him we are called to be holy, full of love and sent to continue Christ’s work in the world – a work of praise, peace and reconciliation which God wishes to bestow on all peoples through us – disciples of Jesus Christ.
Today’s gospel passage spells out our responsibility and describes how we are to carry it out. It follows immediately after we heard how Jesus was rejected by his own (Mark 6:1-6). In today’s section Jesus sends his disciples to outsiders, to whomever would receive in their message. What have these outsiders done to deserve the attention of the messengers, the good news and healings they bring? Nothing, but to be in need and to be open to God, who reaches out to help the needy through God’s appointed messengers.
We moderns want to be fully equipped for the jobs given to us. What special equipment are the messengers to bring with them to win people over to Christ? Well, they were allowed a walking stick and sandals – nothing else (in Matthew and Luke’s account Jesus is even stricter!). How then with these disciples succeed? Not based on their own powers, wit, or persuasive gifts. No baggage, or resources they could carry would guarantee success. In some situations they will be welcomed; in others not. No matter, when they are rejected they are not to be discouraged, but to move on to others who will receive them.
What about us modern messengers of Jesus? We too have been summoned. When our Eucharist is over, whether we are attending Mass in person, or via a live link, we are sent forth as Jesus’ personal messengers. Are we willing to advance his gospel project by our words and deeds in the world? Will we "travel light," trusting in the Lord’s presence to guide us?
How can we tell the story of Jesus to our world? Where? When? – even without words, by the way we live, witness to, or contradict the story we are trying to tell?
Jesus sent his disciples with power over unclean spirits. What are they in today’s world? Unclean spirits like: addictions, militarism, environmental abuse, violence, neglect of the poor, rejection of refugees, pornography, abuse in the home, etc. What work can we do to drive out these "unclean spirits" that threaten to consume and destroy us? We can offer a prayer for wisdom at today’s celebration; for insight, courage and a simple, trusting spirit in Jesus’ accompanying us on our assigned tasks. We are not on our own. He has given us his "traveling Spirit."
Click here for a link to this Sunday’s readings:https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/071121.cfm
I will hear what God proclaims; for the Lord proclaims peace.
For the first disciples, a commitment to peace-making meant to actively follow Jesus’ way of nonviolence, for, as Jesus states, "Put your sword into its sheath, all who take the sword will perish by the sword" (Matthew 26:52). It is through nonviolent forgiveness, reconciliation, solidarity, justice, and love, that true peace is established.
Look what others have taught about nonviolence:
"Nonviolence is not a garment to be put on and off at will. Its seat is in the heart, and it must be an inseparable part of our being."--Mahatma Gandhi
"World peace through nonviolent means is neither absurd nor unattainable. All other methods have failed."--M. L. King Jr.
"One is called to live nonviolently, even if the change one works for seems impossible. It may or may not be possible to turn the US around through nonviolent revolution. But one thing favors such an attempt: the total inability of violence to change anything for the better."--Fr. Daniel Berrigan
If you want peace, work for justice.--Pope Paul VI
"Nonviolence is a typical example of a universal value that finds fulfilment in the Gospel of Christ but is also a part of other noble and ancient spiritual traditions. In a world like our own, sadly marked by wars and numerous conflicts, to say nothing of widespread violence evident in various ways in day-to-day life, the choice of nonviolence as a style of life is increasingly demanded in the exercise of responsibility at every level, from family education, to social and civil commitment, to political activity and international relations. In every situation, this means rejecting violence as a method for resolving conflicts and dealing with them instead through dialogue and negotiation.--Pope Francis (12/15/16)
"Jesus tells us: Blessed are those who work for reconciliation. Blessed are those ready to dirty their hands so that others can live in peace. Blessed are those who try not to sow division. That is how the Beatitude teaches us to be peacemakers. It asks us to try to make ever greater room for the spirit of reconciliation in our midst. Do you want to be blessed? Do you want to be happy? Blessed are those who work so that others can be happy. Do you want peace? Then work for peace."--Pope Francis (1/16/18)
Let us live nonviolently, for the Lord proclaims peace.
Barbara Molinari Quinby, MPS, Director,
Office of Human Life, Dignity, and Justice Ministries
Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral, Raleigh, NC
Mini-reflections on the Sunday scripture readings designed for persons on the run. "Faith Book" is also brief enough to be posted in the Sunday parish bulletins people take home.
From today’s Gospel reading:
Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out
two by two
and gave them authority over unclean spirits.
The sending of apostles did not end when Jesus sent out the Twelve, or on the last pages of the four Gospels. We too have been summoned to advance the reign of God, to act and speak in the spirit of Jesus.
So we ask ourselves:
A group of actors and writing instructors recently returned to San Quentin to resume their classes. The prison has been locked to outsiders since the beginning of the pandemic. If you would like to read about their experiences go to:
I have a friend on Raleigh, North Carolina’ Death
Row. I have known Lyle May for about 15 years. I used to visit him when I lived
in Raleigh. Now we talk by phone and write to one another. He is an avid
student, studying for his degree from Ohio University. At least he was, but
North Carolina cancelled access to education for death row inmates. If you would
like to read Lyle’s story and sign a petition on the inmates’ behalf, go to:
For more information on the Catholic position on the death penalty go to the Catholic Mobilizing Network:http://catholicsmobilizing.org/resources/cacp/
On this page you can sign "The National Catholic Pledge to End the Death Penalty." Also, check the interfaith page for People of Faith Against the Death Penalty:http://www.pfadp.org/
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