The late John Paul II spoke extensively about the “New Evangelism”. We are to spend some time in the pew, praying and receiving intimate encouragement to spend more time in the p-u of this world’s process of recovery. Jesus was sent to be the “sender”, but first there had to be the encounter with him before there would be the encounter with his people.
We pray these days to be the church of Jesus’ mobility. We attend the liturgy so as to be moved to attend the needy, lonely, scared, and marginal. We pray for the freedom from depending overly on security systems of various kinds. We pray for the freedom from and the freedom for reaching out, touching, accompanying, and in that way, preaching the Good News of the care of God. We can pray for the grace to extend Christ’s peace as we walk through our days in his ways.
We hear in the First Reading of the adventures of a shepherd and tree trimmer turned prophet. Amos has had some troubling visions, troublesome for the unjust and oppressive King Jeroboam who had conquered Israel. In previous chapters, Amos had given warnings against the rich and self-secure of Israel.
The early portion of the chapter from which our reading is taken, Amos presents three visions of what is going to happen. The first is of a swarm of locusts eating up even the King’s Portion of the early grains. Amos pleads that this not happen and so it did not. The second is a drought which will ravage all the crops and herds. Again Amos pleads and the Lord relents.
The third vision is of a man with a plumb line. The device is used to determine how out of line a wall might be. Israel is the wall and it is leaning badly almost ready to fall. The Lord tells Amos that he will destroy all that Israel treasures and in which they have taken their security. Amos does not intervene. Amaziah, a temple confidante of Jeroboam, sends word that Amos must be silenced, because he is predicting exile from Israel and death for Jeroboam himself.
What we hear in our reading is Amaziah’s dismissal of Amos from the king’s temple and his telling Amos to go back where he came from and stick to his own business.
Amos makes a very simple reply explaining his being called by God.
The Gospel is Mark’s account of Jesus’ sending his disciples out to test their wings as missionaries. The word “mission” comes from the Latin word for “send”, and so he sends them to do something good and with instructions about how they shall go. They are to test more than their own wings, but also test God’s care and fidelity to them as they go. They are to take nothing upon which they can rely, but only their trust in Jesus’ word. They were to take no food, nor money. They cured many, drove out demons and preached God’s call to believe. Apparently they did all right; it doesn’t say they went hungry or were bereft.
Jesus did tell them to expect rejection or at least not to be accepted just because he sent them to do some good things for people. He told them to expect it and when it comes, they should just keep on walking and talking.
Last week we heard that Jesus had returned to his own hometown and he himself was rejected and so had to move on. This week we hear that the early church was given the same message we receive from Jesus. When we are doing the works of healing this world and all the areas of hurt and division, do not expect an open-arm welcome and acceptance. Amos tried announcing God’s word and he got kicked out. Jesus gets people angry by teaching and curing. Modern-day martyrs speak the Good News and offer graceful assistance and have gotten early entrances into eternal life for their efforts.
No matter what your political view might be of the United States” being in Iraq and the Middle East, while the military persons are trying to reestablish normalcy and extend health care and peace, every day they are receiving resistance and killings. Going about doing good things is not always popular, respected, nor received.
I remember sitting in Fr. Padberg’s sophomore Latin class and listening to the intensity with which he loved Caesar’s Gallic Wars and Gillick’s war with Caesar forced me to resist Father’s goodness. He wanted to give, but I and most of the other squirming fellows around me were thinking about weekend football games and other more delightful activities. He just kept right on the march towards the Germanii and Belgi and eventually he won, but not without his own wars with us.
We as Church and as individual missionaries leave the liturgy, leave our prayer, leave our comfortings and live the Good News and that is our success. We try and keep on keeping on whether or not we see our victories. We continue to reach out, comfort, challenge and touch the needs of others and just sometimes, our offerings will be rejected and our extended hands slapped away. Our fidelity is the revelation of God. The early disciples had to trust his word; we later disciples are doing the same. Have your helping-hands been slapped away lately?
“The sparrow even finds a home, the swallow finds a nest wherein to place her young, near to your altar, Lord of host, my King, my God.” Ps. 84
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