15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings:  Amos 7: 12-15

                     PS. 85: 9-14

                     Eph.  1: 3-14

                     Mk: 6: 7-13

Reflection By Sister Jan Ginzkey, OSB

Have you ever been given an assignment or mission that you felt was beyond your ability to achieve?

I have.  I usually find that those are the most difficult to accept.  They stretch me physically, mentally, and spiritually.  I know that I cannot succeed without guidance, help and encouragement.  The reading from Amos and the Gospel of Mark explores this phenomenon.

Amos was a shepherd and pruned trees in the southern part of the nation, Judah.  He did not want to be a prophet.  Yet when God called and sent him into the northern kingdom of Israel he went.

He faced ridicule and rejection.  Amaziah and the people were not ready or willing to repent, to change their ways or reform.  They rejected God’s call to be transformed.  They were content with their life of complacency and security.  They did not want to hear this simple man from the south.  Amos faithfully proclaimed God’s message despite being mistreated.

In the Gospel Jesus sends his disciples out two by two.  These were ordinary men.  We know some were fishermen. There was a tax collector, a zealot, and others were tradesmen.  Some were couples like the two who would later meet Jesus on the road to Emmaus.  They like Amos were ordinary people used to hard work and family life as it was 2,000 years ago.

They all responded to God’s call.  They trusted that God would be with them.  The disciples went with a companion to assist one another, to encourage one another.  Their message like Amos’ was to preach repentance.  They sought to have people change their way of living.  They, like Amos, implored the people to live differently, to accept God’s presence in their daily lives.

Amos apparently did not receive any special powers.  There is no report that he was able to drive out demons or cure the sick.  He simply warned the people that they needed to repent and return to the covenant God had made with their ancestors.  Amos confronted the societal sins and injustices he witnessed.  The sign of his success was the rejection from the priests and ruler of Israel.  They heard his message and were uncomfortable.  They chose to expel him from their temple and exile him from their country. 

The disciples appear to have been gifts of healing to support their Gospel message.  We are told they took nothing with them on the journey, but their companion and the authority given them by Jesus.  Their mission was to confront the evil found in society and reject the practices and behaviors that were contrary to the Gospel.

We live in a time of great societal injustices.  Some of our civil and religious leaders seem to reject parts of the Gospel.   Jesus’ message today is the same as the one Amos and the disciples shared in their lifetime.  Today I am confronted with the question, “Am I willing to be God’s prophet today?”

Each of us, as ordinary and often feeling unprepared might turn a deaf ear to God’s call.

I am afraid people would not listen to me.  I do not like confrontation or rejection.  Besides feeling inadequate I am afraid of possible violent reactions of some people.  We know that Amos suffered rejection and was literally thrown out of the northern kingdom.    The disciples were often beaten, stoned and martyred.  Today we have road rage.  Every day in the news we hear of mass shootings. 

We have heard stories of store clerks being attacked even shot when they asked a customer to wear a mask when the restrictions were in place.  During COVID we faced the truth that our healthcare, education, legal and penal systems are in dire need of reform.

If you are like me, you are aware of these issues to some degree.  Together they are overwhelming.  It is not uncommon to think I cannot solve these problems.  I am just one ordinary person.  Mother Theresa’s advice to us is, “You cannot do everything, but everyone can do something.”   The challenge in the readings is that you and I, plain simple ordinary people, are being called to transform our attitudes and our lives.

We can start with small steps.

  • Tell the members of your family how much you love them and act out of that love.
  • Check in on an elderly neighbor, graciously listen to his/her story.  Be interested in their life.
  • Offer to pick up groceries for someone who is home bound.
  • Be grateful for the gifts of today, food, shelter, adequate clothing, your health etc.
  • Thank God for the beauty of creation.  Go for a walk in a park or forest. Be in awe of God’s

great creativity.

  • Be happy, smile and greet everyone you see today.  You may even give them God’s blessing.
  • Look for the positive words and actions of others and let them know you appreciate them.
  • Thank the cashier at the grocery store.  Thank everyone who contributes to your wellbeing,

the trash collector, the delivery person, the waitress, your spouse, and your children.

  • Write to your legislators about the issues you are passionate about.
  • Support the non-profit that ministers to a cause you care about.

These simple gestures will open your heart to transformation.  They will impact and brighten others’ lives.  You will be spreading the good news Jesus showed us in the Gospel.  Whatever you choose, if done with love and respect for yourself and the other is a way to be a prophet today.  Trust God to guide you as you listen with the ear of your heart.