Catholic homily for the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B
Theme: Learn to listen to God
By: Rev Fr Stephen ‘Dayo Osinkoya
Homily for Sunday July 11 2021
Beloved in Christ, we continue today where we left off last week, with readings that deal with being Prophets or Apostles. We see that again in today’s reading, from the prophet Amos who was surprised to get a calling from God. He says that he is neither a prophet by profession nor is he a son of a prophet. He was just a simple herdsmen and horticulturist. More like from last week readings, again this week, we hear the theme of rejection: It was Amos’ turn to experience it, and Jesus warns the apostles that some will not welcome or listen to them.
So what is the message for us today?
We need to be open to God. The Psalm today expresses it well when it says “I will hear what the Lord God speaks; he speaks of peace for his people and his faithful.” We have to learn to listen to God – God could be calling any one of us, even if we think we are not worthy, not knowledgeable enough, not brave enough. God’s Spirit will come to us and work through us. We simply have to let it happen and be open to it. The Church is called, not necessarily to be successful, but only to be faithful to God’s command.
With authority and power given to us by Jesus, through the Church and in the sacraments, we are called to proclaim God’s peace and salvation to those who we come across. This word of truth, this gospel of salvation, is addressed to each of us, personally, as Paul proclaims in today’s Epistle. Paul preaches some really good news to us of redemption and forgiveness of sin, and he believes that we have all become Prophets because the Spirit is in us, and the grace of God has been given to us. “With all wisdom and insight,” he says, “God has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ.” In order for this to happen, he says, we have been “marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit.” We saw last week that that was the first thing that happens to a Prophet – God’s Spirit enters one. So in that sense we are all prophets, and that is why in the Gospel today we see Jesus sending out his disciples to continue his work of healing and preaching of repentance. In the mystery of God’s will, we have been chosen from before the foundation of the world – to be His sons and daughters, to live for the praise of His glory.
We therefore have to give thanks to God for the Church today, and for the spiritual blessings He has bestowed upon us. We have to resolve to further the Church’s mission—to help others hear the call to repentance and welcome Christ into their lives. But there is a dimension to which we are called in carrying out this prophetic mission. That dimension is presented in the gospel passage of today.
It is interesting that the new prophets are sent out not alone, but two by two. The idea of sending the Apostles two by two intrigues me. Certainly the company of two on the long journey would be good; they could look out for one another, one encourages and supports the other in times of doubt and discouragement, endure any hardships together, protect one another from any harm – help keep them safer on the road, avoid loneliness, and discuss their experiences. Probably though, the idea was that two people could witness and confirm the truth for each other before their audience, showing that they agree on the doctrine of repentance. Two people saying and believing the same thing makes a better case perhaps.
Furthermore, the Apostles are to go out with nothing. In these specific instructions, Our Lord seems to be saying: don’t be concerned with your material needs but depend entirely on God.
Many people in our time would see anyone advancing the cause of truth and righteousness as trying to gain ‘cheap popularity,’ just the way Amaziah seems to see being a prophet as a way of making a living, hence wants to get rid of Amos as unwelcome competition. Amos replies that being a prophet is not a job but a divine vocation: he got his order to be a prophet from God. This is why he left his work as a shepherd and farm worker. In today’s Gospel, we hear how the twelve apostles get their orders to announce the Gospel in words and in miracles. Like Amos, they have a vocation and a commission. It has to be said again and again that all the baptized also have a vocation to announce the Gospel by the way we live our lives: by our words and our actions. For most of us as a matter of fact, this has to be in the ordinary circumstances of our lives, in the condition Amos was in before his special call.
But Jesus also says that if they don’t listen to your words of repentance, simply leave the house and shake the dust off their feet and move on. In Swahili, (one of the major languages of Africa) there is a saying, “Kizuri chajiuza, kibaya chajitembeza.” I would translate it as, “Goodness is attractive in itself, only what is bad has to keep imposing itself!” Though, the goodness of the Gospel needs to be proclaimed and witnessed to, but it does not have to be aggressively imposed. Aggressiveness – physical or psychological –could be a counter-value. It could be an expression of the insecurity of the believers. Evangelisation –proclamation of the love of God – by its very nature cannot take a tone of imposition, threat, and condemnation. On the contrary, it is merely case of a beggar telling another beggar where to find bread. It is like telling someone: “In my own search for meaning, I have found something significant here. Come, you might find it too!” This is evangelisation.
*Rev Fr Stephen ‘Dayo Osinkoya*