Homily 15th Sunday of Year B: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo
Readings Amos 7:12-15; Ps 85:9-14; Eph 1:3-14 and Mark 6:7-13
God’s choice of each of us!
In psalm 85 verse 9, today, we sang, “Lord show us your love and grant us your salvation”. These are powerful prayers and words of hope. It reminds us of God’s choice of us from the beginning. It reminds us of his constant help and protection, as we journey through life. God created us for a purpose. Like Israel God chose and called each of us in the beginning to love him, to be prophets, in a vocational sense, to be his messengers, and to serve him in our neighbors with fidelity, love, justice and peace. He calls us to be servants of love, agents of evangelization, and conduits of reconciliation in Christ.
This is what Paul meant in the 2nd reading when he says, “ Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ, with every spiritual blessings in the heavens, as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him” (Eph 1:3-14). Unfortunately this invitation or choice to be holy, has always either been taken for granted or met with all kinds of challenges including, pride, disobedience, non-healthy competition among human beings, and man-made social and unjust structures, known to us, that has dotted the history of human race.
In the time of Amos of Judah, these ills were practiced by his contemporaries, Kings and Priests including Jeroboam II and Amaziah, in Bethel in the northern section of Israel. Amos’ mission was to speak out, not to shy away from the truth. His mission was to challenge these unjust political structures with the word of God. In the language of this funny priest, Amaziah, in today’s 1st reading, “off with you, visionary flee to Judah, there earn your bread and never again prophesy in Bethel,” one can see that, this was not an easy mission for Amos. He was faced with rejection, discrimination and perhaps racism with threats!
Christ himself was confronted with similar threats. He was challenged by the Pharisees, Scribes, Synagogue officials, Kings, Emperors and political leaders of his time. His healing and selfless mission was not a "bed of roses." No wonder in choosing his disciples in the Gospel reading of today ( Mark 6:7-13), he empowered them with the Holy Spirit, with his divine instruction to go out and heal, but the disciples must travel light not heavy with so many material properties and strange ideas. Importantly, they should also expect rejection, and insult, opposition; the type that he himself and Amos and other Israel’s prophets had endured.
Does this sound familiar today? Many are denied justice, love and peace today because of their gender, age, color and appearance. Or why don’t we address ourselves personally; are we ourselves, agents of peace, love and justice today, in our homes, families, neighborhood, church communities, and public places of work?
Is the Church, and her teachings being opposed in our nations today, directly by our leaders, or indirectly, through the legislative structures they put in place or signed into laws? Do they make Christian and our faith practice easier? And are we Christians and Catholics collaborators with them for personal gains? Or by not selflessly preaching the mission or bearing witness to the Gospel? Can you also take a moment and imagine what is happening to Christians in communist countries? What about our brother and sister Christians in extreme Muslims countries,constantly challenged by other traditional religions and secular cultures?
In the midst of all these, we want to remember why God chose us in the first place, and always be able to pray today’s psalm, “Lord show us your love and grant us your salvation.”