Sunday Sermon for July 15, 2018, the Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
Readings: Am 7:12-15; Eph 1:3-14; Mk 6:7-13
In the Gospel reading today we hear about our Lord sending out His Apostles and instructing them to take nothing with them on their journey: no food, no money, no sack; just a walking stick. This requires a great amount of trust.
We might say if we were sent out by Jesus Himself to do something, trust would be no problem. There are two points to understand about this: first, the Apostles had not been with Him very long and did not yet have full faith in our Lord. Second, regarding ourselves, we have the Scriptures, the teachings of the Church, the example of the Saints, and we have been sent by Jesus, but most of us have very little trust in Him.
The Apostles were personally chosen by our Lord and taught by Him for their mission in the world. Twice in the second reading St. Paul says we were chosen in Him and he says the Lord, in all wisdom and richness, has made known to us the mystery of His will. So, the only difference is that the Lord was physically present when He chose and taught His Apostles.
The fact that we did not hear the voice of Jesus calling us as He did each of His Apostles does not make our call any less. The fact we have been taught what the Church teaches to be revealed by God means we are not lacking anything the Apostles were taught from the mouth of the Lord. We have the same truth.
The mission of the Apostles was made clear to them by our Lord. So, what is our mission? St. Paul makes clear for us the intention of God in our regard: to exist for the praise of His glory! God has given us everything. According to St. Paul we have been given every spiritual blessing in the heavens, we are to be holy and without blemish before God, we have been adopted by God as His children, we have redemption in the Blood of Jesus, we have the forgiveness of our sins, we have heard the word of truth, and we were sealed with the Holy Spirit.
More could be said, but these are all points St. Paul highlights in the second reading. This list should be more than enough to give any of us confidence in the Lord. Unfortunately, many of us have more confidence in ourselves than we do in the Lord. People sometimes get frustrated with the humiliations and difficulties God allows in our lives, but these are all designed to reverse our natural tendency to have confidence and trust in ourselves: teaching us, instead, to have complete confidence and trust in the Lord.
When this happens we can be like Amos in the first reading. He is kicked out of Bethel, the original place of the Temple, and is told by the priest, Amaziah, to go and earn his living as a prophet somewhere else. Amos responds with all humility and with complete trust in God. He tells Amaziah that he was not a prophet; he was a shepherd and a dresser of sycamore trees before the Lord called him. Shepherds and sycamore dressers were among the lowest in society at that time.
None of us have much to brag about prior to the call we received from our Lord. Our pride makes us want to think we are somehow important, but it is the Lord Who called us Who must be important. Remember Amos: he gave all the credit for being a prophet to the Lord. We need to keep this lesson in mind as we learn to take the focus off ourselves and put it on the Lord. This focus includes the trust we must have in God because we know Who has called us and we know where we have come from.
Too many of us are unwilling to do God’s will because we know instinctively He is going to cause this transition from self to Him in our lives and we are afraid. We put confidence in the government, the media, our material possession, money and, most of all, as we have seen, ourselves. None of these is worthy of our trust and confidence, but we willingly give it all over to them.
God, on the other hand, is completely worthy of our trust and confidence, yet we withhold it from Him. Go back and review the list of blessings from Ephesians described above, and recognize what God has done for us. In his Letter to the Romans St. Paul asks: if God did not spare His Son but gave Him up for all of us, will He not give us everything else as well? Have trust; have confidence: God has chosen you for the praise of His glory!
Fr. Altier’s column appears regularly in The Wanderer, a national Catholic weekly published in St. Paul, Minn. For information about subscribing to The Wanderer, please visit www.thewandererpress.com.