Amos 7:12-15, Ephesians 1:3-14, Mark 6:7-13.
In last Sunday’s homily, we discussed the challenges of our mission and what to do. In the last Sunday readings, we see how God calls Ezekiel to speak against the political problems of His time. So, in today’s readings, we look into the nature of our mission, what it is and how to effectively carry out the mission God entrusts to our care.
Through today’s readings, we will uncover the nature of our mission and the ways to succeed in our call as ministers, workers and children of God, people that He sends to be a change to the world. When we know the nature of our mission, we will come to know the need and how important our work for God is.
It is God Who Calls.
The first point we have to note in the nature of our mission is that it is God that sends us for a reason very important to Him.
In the first reading, we see how Amaziah the priest of Bethel was asking Amos to leave Bethel and flee to the territory of Judah to earn His living as a prophet. It was then that Amos replies to him that He is not a prophet for the sake of His daily needs. He is already a shepherd. He says “I was a shepherd, and looked after sycamores: but it was the Lord who took me from herding the flock, and the Lord who said, “Go, prophesy to my people Israel.”
Therefore, the work He is called to do is not for His personal enrichment nor a quest for materialism. He is only following God’s instructions who called Him to work for Him.
One can understand the intention behind the work Amaziah does from what He is telling Amos. Amaziah tells Amos “Go away, seer;’ get back to the land of Judah; earn your bread there, do your prophesying there”. Therefore, He thinks that Amos’ means of living comes from being a prophet, and this is what Amaziah is doing.
Therefore, those who are truly called by God, work for Him through a burning desire to spread His word. It is not a work we do primarily to enrich ourselves. When we truly want to work for God, it will come from a sincere intention.
2. The encounter today shows that every call to minister to souls should come from God. It is not and should not be primarily a product of satisfying our earthly needs. We do not work for God to satisfy the quest for material acquisition.
In the gospel, we can see that the apostles do not choose themselves, rather Jesus summons the Twelve and begins to send them out in pairs, giving them authority over the unclean spirits. Therefore, every authority must come from God and not out of personal aggrandisement or the quest to make it in life.
God Chooses Us For A Purpose.
Another nature of our mission is that God sends us for a purpose. The prophetic missions of Amos started during the reign of Jeroboam.
During this time, there was an enormous peace across the land of Judah and Israel. Before God calls him, he was a shepherd and a dresser of sycamore trees.
So, we could imagine that he has an occupation already. He lived in Tekoa near Jerusalem in Judah. So, Amos is already a shepherd and God calls him to proclaim His message to the Northern People of Israel.
Despite the peace that greets the land of Israel, the people are so greedy. The rich are oppressing the poor. Many of the Israelites also forsake God and begin to worship idols.
So, in His prophecy. Amos is prophesying that terrible things will happen to the people and that God shall rise against the house of Jeroboam with a sword. It is during this prophecy that Amaziah the priest asks the prophet to flee to the land of Judah. Then Amos tells Him that He is neither a prophet nor a son of a prophet but one sent to proclaim God’s message to the people.
The point that is glaring here is that every prophet was chosen for a purpose. Amos was chosen by God to speak against the social injustices ravaging His time and to stand against inhuman attitudes against the poor.
Amaziah was solely interested in what he would gain. Amos came to the scene as an instrument of change to the false prophecies and fake promises of hope the prophets and priests gave to the people at that time.
Therefore, when God sends you to work for Him when God sends you to a particular place, He does that for a reason. There is a particular purpose by which you are where you are.
Also, In the second reading, Paul writes that God also chooses us in Christ, before the foundation of the world. His purpose is that He wants us to be holy, spotless, to live in His presence always, to make us praise the glory of His grace, and to be His adopted sons, which is a gift He gives us in Christ. This is God’s purpose for every Christian. He wants us to serve and love Him with all true intention.
Therefore, in our mission to serve God, nothing should lie behind our true intention. We have to work for God with a pure and clear intention.
The Ways to Succeed.
In the gospel, Jesus summons the twelve apostles who are about to go on a mission. He instructs them on what to do, to be successful in their missionary journey. When we also abide by these instructions, we can be successful in every work that we do for God. They are:
1. Firstly, we have to know that every authority comes from God. In the gospel, the apostles did not send themselves. They did not wake up and say that they were in a dream and God appeared in the dream to send them. Jesus chooses them and sends them on this missionary work. Every Authority is given. This is one of the reasons the church is what it is today.Therefore, let us not assume authority.
Secondly, Let us not also assume that everything we do is from us. It is God who sends, and provides us with the inspiration, grace and strength to do the work that He calls us to do.
Thirdly, Jesus gives them the authority over unclean spirits, the authority to teach, heal, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers (Matthew 10:8). Therefore, we should not assume that the power to work comes from us. The mistake we can make is to let people think that we are the people who make things happen. We all are mere instruments, God uses.We are not the master of the work.
Also, when you lose strength, enthusiasm, and lack the motivation to continue, always approach the Lord of the work.
2. Second, we need the support of one another. In today’s gospel, Jesus sends them in pairs, two by two. By doing this, Jesus follows the Jewish law of presenting two witnesses to affirm that what one is saying is true (Numbers 35:30. Deuteronomy 17:6, 2 Corinthians 13:1). Thereby going in pairs is to make sure that they support each other, helping and correcting each other. In essence, they are to bear the burdens of each other.
Therefore, doing this will help them to encourage each other. . The apostles practice this even after the ascension of Christ into heaven. Example, in Acts 8;14 when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that the people of Samaria had accepted the gospel message, they sent Peter and John.
In Act 13, we also see how the Holy Spirit sends out Paul and Barnabas. They went through Seleucia, Cyprus, Salamis, Paphos etc.
Therefore, we need to support and work with others together. No man knows it all. We need also to encourage one another and not to pull others down.
Hence today, instead of encouraging, many are doing the negative. In togetherness, we can touch millions of souls.
3. Thirdly. Jesus instructs them to take nothing for the journey except to wear their sandals. One could imagine how possible this can be.
Hence, this is a way of testing the faith of the twelve and a way of instructing them, not to put their whole trust in what they have or what they can acquire. Jesus does not want anything to distract them. He wants them to remain focused on the work He calls them to do.
Therefore taking nothing for the journey, means that they are going on the journey trusting in God’s providence, they are going with a firm belief in the Master who sends them.
They are going because the Master tells them to go. Therefore, the way to succeed in our missionary work is to have absolute trust in God even in lack. Just as He sends us to work for Him, gives us authority and power over unclean spirits and sicknesses, He also provides us with our daily needs.
In Matthew 6:25-28, Jesus tells us not to be anxious about what to eat or what to wear. If we seek Him and work for Him wholeheartedly, all these will come even when we least expect that.
Therefore, our focus should not be on what to gain, what to acquire and how to enrich ourselves. Our focus should be on how to touch souls for God. He knows how to provide for His children. He will provide for you.
4.Jesus says “If you enter a house anywhere, stay there until you leave the district”. The point here is that Jesus wants them to accept whatever that the people they are sent to can give to them. Whatever place they are given to live, they should accept it like that.
Hence, there was no mention of any place that the people that are to receive them are given a pre-information that the apostles are coming.
Therefore, whether prepared or unprepared, the apostles would accept whatever they se that as their fate. They should not be going about looking for the best accommodation, but to rejoice and suffer with the people they live with. Therefore, in our mission for God, we should not always expect the best.
In essence, the way to succeed in our mission is to be content with whatever that you have. Do not start looking for a way to live a luxurious life. Sometimes in the bid to live luxuriously, we make some serious mistakes.
Also with this, Jesus is teaching us that working for Him is not a place to seek comfort. We have to live with the people, work with them, enjoy with them and suffer with them, in the moments of hardship.
Therefore if we truly want to work, we should not use the people we are serving as a way to enrich our pockets.
As the second reading says, “God has already blessed us with every spiritual blessing. Let us rise to the occasion and use these blessings and work for God.
5. Finally, Jesus instructs His apostles, “If any place does not welcome you and people refuse to listen to you, as you walk away, shake off the dust from under your feet as a sign to them.’
The jews have this tradition of shaking out their robes whenever they leave a gentile town. Hence they believe that by doing so, they are shaking away any possible contamination with them, thereby protecting their sanctuary from false beliefs and practices.
Therefore by shaking the dust from their feet, the apostles are invariably showing that the Jews who reject the gospel are lost like the gentiles who do not know God. In the Acts of the Apostles 13:15, Paul and Barnabas do this in Pisidia.
Also, when the Jews in Corinth revile Paul, He shakes out his garments on them (Acts 18:5-6). Therefore, Jesus does not want his apostles to go into trouble with anyone. They should not go into arguments. If anyone hardens his or her heart and refuses to repent, what they will do is to shake off the dust against the person, the community or the town. Hence, they will answer for it on the last day. Therefore to succeed in our mission for God, we should avoid troubles and skirmishes. Never take offence at anyone. Therefore, every follower of Jesus should be a harbinger of peace.
1. The gospel tells us that the apostles obey all that Jesus says, and they are successful. They expel many devils, and anoint many sick people with oil and cure them.
In essence, the key instrument to do our work effectively is the word of God. It is not how comfortable you are. The key to every successful minister is a strong faith He has in whatever God says.
The apostles have faith in the words of Jesus and make headways. Therefore, with faith in the word of God, great things can happen.
It is through our faith in God that healing, open doors and salvation comes. Therefore, in the nature of our mission, we need to have a strong faith in God and what He says. Through this, we may experience a great turnaround. When you have faith, you can be willing to go through the worst and yet remain firm.
2. Secondly, the twelve apostles obey Jesus and do what He tells them to do. No one decided not to go. Therefore, obedience is very important in our missionary apostolate.
We have to obey God, obey the church and obey our superiors who are ahead of us in the order. There are many things the apostles would love to do on their own, but they concentrated first on that of their Master.
Therefore, what God wants, what the church wants etc, should be our guiding principles, not everything that we want.
If you are working under a priest in your parish, it is good to work under His guidance. We may have wonderful ideas, but it is good to obey His instructions. If you working in any place and under anyone, learn to obey and take instructions from Your Superior.
3. Today, the readings remind us of the centre of the gospel message. In the reading, we can observe that Jesus sends his apostles to preach the Gospel, drive out demons and take care of the weak and cure the sick.
The gospel says categorically that the apostles went out preaching repentance. Their preaching was essentially that people repent and change their lives. Hence, this should be the focus of everything and every work that we do for God.
The apostles did not go out and began to preach only oga adiri gi na mma gospel (it shall be well with you gospel). Our work is not to tell people what they want to hear. The apostles are not property preachers. Their messages are targeted towards repentance.
Then in that ministry, they cast out many devils, and anointed many sick people with oil and cured them. So, these form part of the work but not essentially the fulcrum. Our work should be that people change and turn to God.
Therefore, In every apostolate, the nature of our mission should be to win souls.
4. In the first reading, we will discover that Amos’ call as a prophet met with opposition from Amaziah and others who felt threatened by what He was doing.
Also, in the gospel, we can see that Jesus instructs His apostles to be content with whatever they were given and shake off the dust from their feet when they meet opposition from people. In essence, they must encounter opposition.
Therefore, any task, work, ministry and apostolate God chooses us to do is a field that sometimes may even meet with oppositions, challenges and rejections. This is one of the nature of our mission.
Therefore we shall surely meet these kinds of challenges in our journey. They should not discourage us but rather be a stimulus to do our best.
The nature of our mission is characterised by many challenges. Therefore to succeed, we have to detach from material things, our eyes should focus on Jesus, and we must be ready to suffer anything if truly we are ready to work for God.
As the apostles trust only in the power of His Word, we shall also trust in the power of His Word and the grace of God.
5. Finally, this is a reminder that the nature of our mission is to fight evil and not to paint it. We have to have a soul-winning mentality and not preach to garner favour from people or telling them only what they want to hear.
We have to persevere because we must encounter several challenges. Hence, we should not rely on material acquisition as the motivation behind what we do, but to touch souls by whatever we do.
It is the nature of our mission. Let us then continue to move on and not lose hope. In God, we trust.
May God bless you and give us the grace to succeed in our works for Him. May He continue to abide with you in everything that you do. Amen.