Catholic homily for the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B
Theme: The mission of every Christian
By: Fr. Jude Chijioke
Homily for Sunday July 11 2021
Readings: Amos 7: 12 – 15; Ps 85; Ephesians 1: 3 – 14; Mark 6: 7 – 13
The theme of this Sunday’s liturgy is that of mission. “The pilgrim Church is missionary by nature … It is the duty of every disciple of Christ to spread the faith, as far as possible”. This is how the Second Vatican Council expresses itself in two of its documents, picking up the thread of a secular tradition that can ideally be tied to the famous exclamation of Paul: “Woe to me if I do not proclaim the gospel!” (1 Cor 9:16). Our Liturgy today reiterates this theme by exalting above all its deep root, the one that sinks into the mystery of God itself. Vocation, therefore, is the constitutive act of the history of every faith that is sent to announce a word that is not his own and a hope that has been sown in him.
First of all, prophet Amos (8th century BC) enters the scene, a man of the fields, called to a prophetic vocation to protest against unjust political power and its innumerable scandals. The picture that is described today in the first reading highlights another contrast, that with the “court chaplain”, the priest Amaziah of the royal sanctuary of Bethel, who wants to prevent the prophet from preaching in the official temple of the kingdom. Amos’ reply to this cold and interested cult bureaucrat is sharp: at the root of the prophetic vocation there is no personal choice, nor a particular taste, nor a career interest, but God’s choice and the effective calling of his voice. This voice resounded when Amos was a modest shepherd and carver of sycamores; it revolutionized his life. Paul too in the solemn hymn of blessing of the opening of his letter to the Christians of Ephesus goes in search of the source of every Christian vocation and finds it in an act of God’s love. An act that is behind creation and history. At the beginning of every personal history and that of all humanity there is, therefore, the “richness of divine grace”. In the beginning there is the project of the mind of God that Paul describes with this chain of words: election, consent, will, mystery, benevolence, design, plan, predestination, etc. Man does not enter the world by chance, nor is he entrusted to the tangle of the blind mechanisms of matter or fate. He is called by name and destined to enter divine communion until he becomes a member of a celestial family, that of God’s adopted children and brethren of Christ.
And here we are, finally, at the words of Jesus on the day of the call of the Twelve. Constituting them as messengers of the Kingdom of God, Christ addresses them with a brief appeal centered on two commitments, viz: poverty and courage. The mission knows first a total donation of the self, the hands must not be hindered by bags and money; the greatness of the figure of the apostle is not measured on an official insignia, well embroidered tunics; the trip is not a solemn and refined diplomatic mission accompanied and supported by all kinds of services and by the protection of parliamentary immunity.
Indeed, Jesus continues, the mission is the kind that knows rejection, with doors that close, with ears that ignore, with lips that scoff. Equipped with only the treasure of the Word of God and with the strength of His Spirit a disciple walks in the world sowing hope and joy amid those who welcome and listen to him.
Today’s liturgy reminds us, then, that at the root of our history as believers and disciples there is an act of God. We are not the first actors, but it is God himself who breaks the silence of his mystery with his word and deed. Suggestive are certain expressions of Paul who feels “challenged” by Christ, the fundamental element says the Apostle is “to be known by Christ” even before “knowing him” (GaI 4, 9) because God “allows himself to be found even by those who do not seek him” (Rom 10:20). The vocation is, therefore, to let oneself be grasped, known, sought, and found by God who passes through the streets of our cities and our countryside and knocks on the doors of our homes. The decisive factor is not to be distracted or closed in on ourselves; but to open the door of our hearts for God to live and dine with us.
Fr. Jude Chijioke