15th Sunday of the Year, B – July 11, 2021.
Readings: Amos 7:12-15; Ps 84:9-14; Ephesians 1:3-14; Gospel – Mark 6:7-13.
Theme: Call to Discipleship!
The first reading discloses the clash between Amaziah, the Priest and Amos, the Prophet. In the second reading, St. Paul validates the point made by Amos that “before the world was made [God] chose us in Christ…” This is a call “to make his glory praised” in the daily events of our lives. The gospel reading presents us with the call to discipleship and the mandate to preach in pairs. By reminding his Apostles to carry no bread, haversack and coppers or purses for the journey, Christ challenges us to beware of the trappings of materialism even as we cast out devils, care for the sick and preach repentance.
Friends in Christ, our reflection titled, “The Call to Discipleship” presents us with a battle between Amaziah the priest and prophet Amos. The battle for the soul of prophesy in the Old Testament is resolved by Jesus who gives a proviso for true discipleship. We shall briefly reflect on the readings in the light of practical lessons.
Background & Summary of the Readings
The first reading (Amos 7:12-15) discloses the clash between Amaziah, the priest and Amos, the Prophet. Amaziah was a priest in charge of the royal sanctuary in Bethel who was fond of sugarcoating the message of God. He talks to please the king and also make money. He compromises the truth and plays to the gallery. When he heard Amos’ vision of the plummet (plumb-line) which portends the destruction of the shrines and sanctuaries in the kingdom as well as the dynasty of king Jeroboam through the sword (Amos 7:7-9), he felt that his job and principal, Jeroboam II were under attack (Amos 7:13). Because he was prophesying for filthy lucre, he accused Amos of the same thing and with the collaboration of his Master, ordered that Amos leaves the scene. Amaziah preferred to displease God so as to please man.
The prophet Amos hails from Tekoa, in Judah (Amos 1:1) but was called to prophesy to Israel in the northern kingdom. Amos sees three visions of judgment against Israel where locusts eat away the spring growth (7:1-3), a shower of fire consumes the land (7:4-6) and a wall built with a plumb line. God sets a religious and ethical plumb line on the kingdom of Israel to see how they stand. Sadly, the people did not measure up because they were not upright. Amos maintained that God will destroy the high places of worship and rise violently against Jeroboam’s house – a prophesy that both prophets Amos and Hosea condemn stressing that these were improper locations for the worship of God.
As a result, Amaziah confronted Amos ordering him to leave Judah immediately and never again prophesy in Bethel. Amos responds that although he is not from a line of prophets, God called him while he was tending his flocks and the dresser of sycamore tree, to prophesy to Israel. Unlike Amaziah, Amos was preferred to please God rather than man.
In the second reading, St. Paul validates the point made by Amos that “before the world was made he chose us, chose us in Christ, to be holy and spotless, and to live through love in his presence, determining that we should become his adopted sons.” This presupposes our baptism in Christ for the unique role of discipleship. This is a call “to make his glory praised” in the daily events of our lives.
The gospel reading (Mark 6:7-13) presents us with the call to discipleship and the mandate to go and preach in pairs. The sacred text maintains that the apostles who were charged to carry no bread, haversack, coppers or purses set out to preach repentance while casting out devils and anointing the sick.
1. Speak Truth to Power: Our liturgy challenges pastors of souls who like the priest Amaziah have lost their voice due to feeding fat on the “Royal Sanctuary of Bethel” to reassess their prophetic calling and stand their ground in talking truth to power.
2. Avoid Attacking Prophets: It also calls direct beneficiaries of the “Royal Sanctuary of Bethel” or Jeroboams of our time in the political and traditional space to eschew the triumphalistic attitude of either “buying” or threatening men of God to repent or perish.
3. Be Prepared for Persecution: Those who say the truth should be prepared to suffer persecution like the Prophet Amos and be prepared for the lies and sycophantic behaviour of the Amaziahs of our time even as they are emboldened to be the contemporary voices of Amos.
4. God Can Choose Anyone: Since God used Amos, “a herdsman and sycamore tree dresser” by appointing him to become a priest, Christians are reminded that God can use anyone, no matter his weaknesses, for the glory of his name provided he or she disposes himself/herself for his kind purposes.
5. Serve God through Humanity: Christians are charged to remember that the call to discipleship is a battle between serving God and man which demands that we serve God through humanity but distance ourselves from any attempt to please human beings and displease God.
6. Resist Materialism: Those who preach the gospel are warned about the dangers of materialism while being charged to be contended with what the mission offers.
1. The first reading discloses the clash between, Amaziah the priest and Amos, the Prophet.
2. In the second reading, St. Paul validates the point made by Amos that “before the world was made [God] chose us in Christ…”
3. This is a call “to make his glory praised” in the daily events of our lives.”
4. The gospel reading presents us with the call to discipleship and the mandate to preach in pairs. 5. The apostles who were charged to carry no bread, haversack, coppers or purses set out to preach repentance.
Instead of crying foul or complaining endlessly in the face of persecution, our liturgy charges Christians to relay on the Holy Spirit to remain relevant. In a society where spiritual materialism and commodification of religious values holds sway, Pastors of souls are challenged to take seriously their mandate of preaching repentance, casting out demons and caring for the sick. May our Blessed Mother, the Virgin Mary intercede for us as we choose to always please God in our thoughts, words and deeds. Amen.