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THE THREE SUNDAY READINGS FROM THE LECTIONARY
The prophet Amos is sent from Bethel.
Amaziah, priest of Bethel, said to Amos,
“Off with you, visionary, flee to the land of Judah!
There earn your bread by prophesying,
but never again prophesy in Bethel;
for it is the king’s sanctuary and a royal temple.”
Amos answered Amaziah, “I was no prophet,
nor have I belonged to a company of prophets;
I was a shepherd and a dresser of sycamores.
The LORD took me from following the flock, and said to me,
Go, prophesy to my people Israel.”
A prayer for the Lord’s salvation
R.Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation.
I will hear what God proclaims;
the LORD —for he proclaims peace.
Near indeed is his salvation to those who fear him,
glory dwelling in our land.
R. Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation.
Kindness and truth shall meet;justice and peace shall kiss.
Truth shall spring out of the earth,
and justice shall look down from heaven.
R. Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation.
The LORD himself will give his benefits;
our land shall yield its increase.
Justice shall walk before him,
and prepare the way of his steps.
R. Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation.
Ephesians 1:3-14 ( shorter form Ephesians 1:3-10)
Paul teaches that we were chosen for Christ before the creation of the world.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us in Christ
with every spiritual blessing in the heavens,
as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world,
to be holy and without blemish before him.
In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ,
in accord with the favor of his will,
for the praise of the glory of his grace
that he granted us in the beloved.
In him we have redemption by his blood,
the forgiveness of transgressions,
in accord with the riches of his grace that he lavished upon us.
In all wisdom and insight, he has made known to us
the mystery of his will in accord with his favor
that he set forth in him as a plan for the fullness of times,
to sum up all things in Christ, in heaven and on earth.
In him we were also chosen,
destined in accord with the purpose of the One
who accomplishes all things according to the intention of his will,
so that we might exist for the praise of his glory,
we who first hoped in Christ.
In him you also, who have heard the word of truth,
the gospel of your salvation, and have believed in him,
were sealed with the promised holy Spirit,
which is the first installment of our inheritance
toward redemption as God’s possession, to the praise of his glory.
Alleluia EPH 1:17-18
May the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ
enlighten the eyes of our hearts,
that we may know what is the hope that
belongs to our call.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Jesus instructs his disciples and sends them to preach repentance.
Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two
and gave them authority over unclean spirits.
He instructed them to take nothing for the journey
but a walking stick—
no food, no sack, no money in their belts.
They were, however, to wear sandals
but not a second tunic.
He said to them,
“Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave.
Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you,
leave there and shake the dust off your feet
in testimony against them.”
So they went off and preached repentance.
The Twelve drove out many demons,
and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.
Two realhomilies to follow:
A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh. Sydney, Australia
Have you ever had the experience either when you were at school, or later in life, when someone in authority asked you to do a special task, or you may have been unexpectedly promoted? Well, that is a bit like what happened to Amos in the first Reading today. Poor Amos, was living a quiet life, tending sheep and caring for Sycamore trees, and obviously living a faithful life to the Lord God’s Covenant. Not that Amos would have seen his call to be a Prophet as a promotion, but it sure was a different life style, compared to what he was used to doing.
The Mission entrusted to Amos, was a tough one. Just imagine, if we felt that compelling urge in the form of a Vocation from God to go and speak God’s Word of judgement to the local Bishop of the Diocese! That’s what it really amounted to……none of us in our right minds would even really want to entertain the idea, let alone do it. Why might we feel that way? For starters, the Cathedral is the Mother Church of the Diocese, and tradition has it that we hold the Bishop’s Office in some kind of awe and respect. Perhaps another idea in the back of our minds would be the possibility that the Bishop might think that we are mad in the head, and who are we to tell him some ways in which his ministry could be more true and authentic? I think that our human nature would send out big caution signals before we embarked on the venture to the local Chancery. However, Amos did go to the Shrine at Bethel and confront Amaziah, the Priest! He certainly was not invited to stay for lunch! Within the conversation between Amos and Amaziah, we can see the purity of intention within Amos, in contrast to the arrogance of Amaziah! In Amos, there almost seems a naiveté in his approach to the Priest, but most probably, due to the fullness of the Lord God’s truth, he was just doing what he was told to do by a higher authority than the local Priest at Bethel. While we are at it, Bethel in Hebrew means House of God, and was situated about fourteen miles north of Jerusalem; a sacred place since the time of the Patriarchs’. So Amos, in a sense was walking into the Lion’s Den! Amos had no Bacholar of Theology, and he had not been formed within any of the Brotherhoods of Prophets, or Rabbinical schools. According to the local Priest, Amos had no credentials……the response was, ‘Get out of here…who do you think you are?’
If we visualise a similar situation today, in our so called modern setting, I think that Amos would get a similar reaction from religious authorities; it would be absolutely a rare occurrence if today’s religious authorities would invite Amos as a special guest to a Chancery meeting with the local Bishop, and his Consultors. Let’s have another look at Amos. He was living a simple life as a shepherd and farmer, obviously he was obedient to the Lord’s voice, somewhat like young Samuel in the Book of Samuel. His faithfulness to the Lord God enabled him to be a super listener to God Word. He was seized by the Lord God within a moment of deep awareness of God’s Mission and plan. Nothing could stop him from doing it; his very ‘being’ was the voice of God’s Word. Look around us within our world today, these Prophets of the Lord God are with us and have always been with us…..do we let ourselves hear them? In our own cities, metro suburbs, villages and Christian Institutions, God’s Prophets abound…..not popular, mind you, but the message of God that they convey is not generally splashed across our Television News screens, unless it could be used for political or monetary rewards. We have the quiet achievers living within our families, parishes and missions, which are another Amos! ‘Speak Lord, your servant is listening, is probably more fruitful than the prayer….’ Listen Lord, your servant is speaking…’ Food for thought!
The first Reading today, is a wonderful entrée to the Gospel. Jesus sends out the twelve in pairs, on their first mission. This mission was not some light hearted holiday affair. The Motels had not been booked in advance, and there was no need to carry overnight suitcases on wheels! They virtually went as they were, materially empty handed, but within their hearts and spirits, they were loaded with what they needed for the task….faith, hope, trust and knowledge that they were, like Amos, seized by Jesus, the human face of the Father. They were empowered by the Spirit! The message was simple, the preaching of repentance, casting out of evil, and anointing those who were ill.
In the walking of ‘the mission’ with their seemingly lack of materials, the human messengers contained and embodied God’s message, which was to awaken in the hearers the ancient hospitality which was so much part of their Biblical tradition.
Preaching the message of repentance, needs some explaining…..Biblical repentance is seeing the world in a new way, e.g. if we were to stand on our hands, we would see the world differently. Spiritually, we are called to stand on our hands and look at God’s invitation differently…whatever excess baggage that we have would fall out of our pockets and lie on the ground. What excess baggage do we cling onto for security, which may block our ability to ‘let go’ and walk with the Lord without a Passport! Amos, preached repentance, Jesus preached repentance, the twelve preached repentance, the Saints preached repentance, Mother Theresa preached repentance, Pope Francis preaches repentance……..all of them have met with and continue to meet with resistance. What about us, do we resist, do we ignore, do we listen, and do we change?
The word sin has been turned into sins! To uncomplicate the issue, Biblical sin is a way of life, and is spoken of as a way of living. Sin is basically turning away from God; repentance is the process of turning back to God. A sinful life is a life of rejecting God in words and actions, it is born from an inner spiritual sickness over time. The return to a ‘faithful and listening life to God’, can happen quickly, or it can take a while. It does not really matter how long it takes, as long as it is in the process of actually happening.
Today, God’s Word calls us to listen to the Lord God, through His Word, within our community and the world, and celebrated in Eucharist. When we are liturgically dismissed at the Celebration of the Eucharist, that is not just a liturgical way of saying….’Bye, Bye, see you next week.’ It is a commission, to continue to be seized by God, so that we can be attentive to and listen to the Words of Jesus, so that we can effectively, SEE, JUDGE AND ACT…..as the old YCW, maxim used to be when we were at school, and post school.
I would like to conclude with a Text message or Twitter for the week, it comes from the Prophet Micah in the Old Testament…..’This is what God asks of you, only this: – To act justly, to love tenderly and to walk humbly with God, (and each other) Micah 6:8
A reflection on the Gospel for the 15th Sunday year B
By:- Fr Brian Gleeson,CP
We have heard Mark say: ‘… [the twelve apostles] set off to preach repentance‘ (6:12)
What did the apostles mean and what did Jesus mean when they called on people to ‘repent‘? In a nutshell, they were asking people to completely change their lives. Right now let’s explore some of what repentance involves.
Repentance and conversion go together. They are about change and transformation. Conversion is turning away from something to something else. For every person, it involves turning away from how I live my life now to another way of living – a new, better, more genuine, more Christ-like way!
It happens when I respond to the gift of God to me, the gift of God’s love, God’s grace. It happens when I come to see and accept that God loves me with an infinite and unconditional love, a forgiving and everlasting love, a love that led his Son to stretch out his arms on the cross to embrace me, and a love that has been with me every step of my life’s journey.
This love that God has for me is brilliantly illustrated in the famous story Jesus told of the lost son who runs away from his father and family and their love, and gets himself into one hell of a mess (Lk 15).
As it happened with the prodigal son, the beginning of the process of conversion is marked by a loss of tranquillity, and by feelings of restlessness, dissatisfaction and disillusionment. This is necessary, for without unrest there is no need to change. Further along the path, conversion requires time and effort and struggle to grow and mature. It requires rooting out old habits, bad habits, and establishing new habits, good habits. It requires working at treating others differently, and working at creating a different environment, a more peaceful, harmonious and caring atmosphere in which to live and work.
It requires admitting and facing painful facts about myself: – I have done wrong. I have hurt others. I have let them down. I have deceived myself. I have flopped and failed again and again and again. It requires humbly admitting that I cannot change and become a better person without outside help, that I need to put my trust in the power and love of God to free, heal and change me. Only those can be liberated who know they are enslaved. Only those who have nothing can receive everything. The Word of God says so again and again.
My conversion will be shown gradually in a change in my relationships – in how I relate to the members of my family, to my fellow parishioners, to the people I work with, to the people I pass in the street, to strangers, to the general public, to Jesus Christ in person, and to myself. My conversion will happen in the ways I begin to think about life and people, in the ways I feel about them, and in the ways I respond to them.
My conversion will happen too in my change of values, as I re-make my life-commitments in keeping with the best human values. These are not the values of this world where everything revolves around competition and success. No, my new values will be the values of Jesus – truthfulness; honesty; integrity; acceptance; affection; friendship; kindness; compassion; forgiveness; generosity; fairness; peace; patience; joy; fidelity and trust. I will remember that God does not ask me to be successful – for success is not a gospel value – but to be faithful, faithful always.
I will show my conversion by deliberately and consistently reaching out to the poor, the lost, the losers, and the broken. Was it not to them most of all that Jesus announced the coming of the kingdom of God? Did he not say that it belonged to them? Did he not say both in word and action that the kingdom of God is above all for the misfits, the ‘uglies’, the sinners, the tax-collectors, the lepers, the lonely, and the prostitutes? Did he not demonstrate over and over again that the kingdom of God is a kingdom for the messy and the losers rather than for ‘the beautiful people‘ – the rich and famous celebrities of our glossy magazines?
It cannot be stressed strongly enough that conversion is about turning away and turning to – turning away, on the one hand, from selfishness, sin and evil, as well as the golden calves of money, prestige, status and power, and, on the other hand, turning to God, to Jesus Christ, and to our shared values as a church community – truth and integrity, goodness and love, justice and equality, peace and joy. Turning away and turning to, all through the transforming power of the Holy Spirit of God given to us with our baptism!
So, during the rest of our prayer today – with others and alone – let us ask God for the grace of conversion – for one another, for our church community, and for our society and its culture!
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