15th Sunday OTB

Amos 7:12-15         Eph 1:3-14   Mk 6:7-13

During the Korean War,  a statue of Christ, was blown off its pedestal and lay in fragments on the ground in a little Catholic village. A group of American soldiers helped the priest to collect up the fragments. Carefully they put the statue together again. They found all the pieces except the hands. They offered to fly the back to America and have hands made for it. But the priest refused.

‘I have a better idea’, he said. ‘Let’s leave it without hands. And we’ll write on the pedestal the words: FRIEND, LEND ME YOUR HANDS. In that way passers-by will come to see that Christ now has no hands but ours with which to raise up the fallen; no feet but ours to seek out the lost; no ears but ours to listen to the lonely; no tongue but ours to speak words of comfort to the lonely.’

Dear friends! Today’s readings remind us of our Divine Adoption as God’s children and of our call to preach the good news of Jesus by bearing witness to God’s love, mercy and salvation as revealed through Jesus. “God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world.” (Ephesians 1: 4)

In today’s Gospel, Jesus involved the apostles in his work. He shared his divine mission with them. He gave them his own authority and power and empowered them to speak and act in his name. Their mission in the first place was a spiritual one – to preach repentance and the imminent coming of the kingdom of God. But it was also concerned with physical and mental healing. This shows that Christianity is concerned with people’s spiritual well-being and with their physical well-being. In other words, with the whole person.

Amos was a simple shepherd. Yet God sent him to preach a message of repentance to his people. Most of the apostles were fishermen. Yet Jesus didn’t hesitate to share his work with them. Even more surprising – the day came when he entrusted his entire work to them. God continues to choose the simple and the ordinary. We don’t need to be an expert.

Many in authority have a fear of involving people in a work, especially so-called ordinary people. Hence, people are left with the feeling that they have nothing to contribute. It is good for the people to be involved. It makes them responsible. It gives them an opportunity to use their talents.

But sometimes people don’t want to be involved. It’s easier to leave it to the experts. The practice of leaving it to the professionals is very common today. Thus, all healing is left to doctors and nurses. All teaching is left to teachers. All the work for the poor is left to the Government or the Vincent de Paul Society.

Of course experts are needed for specialized jobs. But the non-specialist too has a lot to contribute and often has a warmer heart. The sick have as much need of companionship as of medicine. The old need someone to spend time with them. The young need someone to show an interest in them. This work we all can do. It does not call for any expertise – only a caring heart.

Often we talk a lot about getting people to come to our church. But we don’t talk enough about getting our church to go to the people. That’s what Jesus is talking about here! He doesn’t say, “Wait in the sanctuary, and pray for people to come in and fill the pews.” He’s saying, “I want the people in the pews to go to them!”  I am convinced that most of the ministry that God calls us to do is outside the church. It happens when we reach out with God’s word to the people in our own village. When we teach our kids right from wrong. When we discuss Bible stories around the dinner table. When we reach out in Christian friendship to coworkers that God has placed in our lives. Reaching out with the love of God beyond the walls of this building. That’s our model for ministry.

The Bible starts with the story of how God made human beings partners in the work of creation. And Christ made his disciples partners in the work of salvation. A great responsibility has been laid upon us. A great honor has been conferred on us. We are responsible for God’s world and for one another. We are stewards of creation. We are co-workers with Christ.  Like Amos, each one of us is chosen by God, through the mystery of divine adoption in Jesus, to become missionaries and to preach the “good news” by Christian witnessing.

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