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Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time –Year B– Called to the Prophetic Vocation, Let Us Share in the Mission of the Apostles and Continue Christ’s Divine Work on Earth.

Called to speak in God’s name, the prophetic utterances of Amos incurred the opposition of the royal prophets. There was a confrontation between Amos and Amaziah, the High Priest. Amos courageously preached in the temple of Bethel without permission. He denounces the false order which allows the accumulation of so much private wealth. The situation made Amaziah to be uncomfortable with his preaching. The reason, being that Amos was condemning public worship, and upsetting the worshipping population, whose offerings gave him a luxurious life. This was also seen as conspiracy that threatened the peace of the worshippers. As his prophetic activities was not to make a living, he was only doing the work for which God called him to be prophet. He was a layperson to whom God has entrusted a mission, when he called him personally. Amaziah wanted to throw Amos out of the country or wanted to forbid him from preaching in public places (Amos 7:12-15).

 

As a man, well convinced of his divine calling to preach, he defended his action by saying that he was no prophet, nor did he belong to a company of prophets; rather, he was a shepherd and a dresser of sycamores. It was from those professions that God called him to go and prophesy to his people, Israel.

 

As God worked and spoke through his prophets in the Old Testament, so now he works and speaks through his Son, Jesus Christ. In his divine mission and ministry, not only did Jesus go around to the villages teaching, as St. Mark tells us today, he also shares his work with the twelve. He summoned them and began to send them out two by two, giving them authority over unclean spirits. His instruction to them is to rely on Divine providence. For that reason, they should take nothing for the journey, but walking stick, with no food, no sack, and no money in their belts. As itinerant or poor wanderers, they were to wear sandals, with no second tunic. They are to stay in the places they are accorded hospitality, and to shake dust off their feet, and leave from places that do not welcome them. Following Jesus’ instructions, they went off, preaching repentance. They drove out many demons, and anointed many sick people with oil and cured them (Mark 6:7-13).

 

The proper examination of the missionary mandate and instructions of Jesus to his disciples shows that they are for all times. They are part and parcel of the apostolic vocation. An apostle is first called to be with Jesus, who has nowhere to lay his head, who though, was rich, emptied himself to become man, in order to enrich us, by his poverty. He is the poor, chaste, obedient Son of God. He relied only on divine providence, with no security of his own. An apostle, having been with Jesus and learnt from him, is then sent out like him, empowered by his authority, to continue his divine mission and ministry. That is why Jesus instructed his apostles on their mission, to take nothing for the journey, and to depend solely on God for their needs. God will provide for them through the generosity of his holy people, who will not go without their rewards, for meeting the needs of his chosen ones.

 

In sending out his apostles, Jesus made them to become his representatives or ambassadors through whom, he continues his own ministry. He will latter tell them, “He who receives you, receives me, he who receives me, receives the one who sent me. Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet, will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever receives a righteous man because he is righteous, will receive a righteous man’s reward. And whoever gives only a cup of cold water, to one of these little ones to drink because he is a disciple- amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward (Matthew 10:40ff, see Luke 10:16, John 12:44).”

 

St. Paul praises God for our share in the divine mission of Christ. He has chosen us in Christ to be like him, and has bestowed on us every spiritual blessing, to be holy and blameless, to be full of love. In this way, in Christ, we are called to be his adopted children (Ephesians 1:3-14). May we by the virtue of our baptism, called to be prophets, like the apostles continue the divine vocation, mission and ministry of Jesus Christ, now and forever.

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