15th Sunday in Ordinary Time - 15th July, 2018

Liturgical Reflection

 
Amos 7:12-15;  Eph. 1:3-14;  Mark 6:7-13

 

In the readings for this Sunday, there is a substantial discussion about mission: who initiates mission, and how missionaries are to act when on mission.

A single theme runs through the three readings of Amos, Ephesians, and the gospel of Mark: that God is clearly the one inviting to mission.  Amos protests when God calls him to be a prophet saying that he never wanted to be a prophet, has never belonged to the guild of prophets, and that he was a simple shepherd caring for his sheep and sycamore trees.

 

In the stirring passage from Ephesians it is clear that it is by God’s choice that believers, both Jews and Gentiles belong to God and share the good news.  In the gospel, it is Jesus Himself who sends the Apostles.

Once on mission there are specific directions for the Twelve.  Equipped only with the authority of Jesus’ word and the memory of His example, they are sent out in pairs like their ancestors with only their walking staffs and sandals, no money and a single tunic.  They are to accept the hospitality offered and not look for better; if they are refused welcome they are to keep the Jewish custom of shaking the dust from their sandals.

This is a very different model of mission.  What are we to make of it today?  Are we to imitate the mendicant friars who were put to shame by the heretics’ practice of poverty in response to the Gospel?  Jesus clearly intended that the disciples rely on the power of the Word itself to appeal to those who heard it from those who did not bring it wrapped in the trappings of prosperity and status.

Our present age has its own temptations for us as Gospel preachers to adopt the values of the kingdom of this world that hide or undermine the Kingdom of God to touch the minds and hearts of those to whom we are sent.  Pope Francis has preached to us his vision of a Church that is poor summed up in a powerful image: that as preachers of the Word we should “have the smell of the sheep” sharing the experiences of those living on the edges of a rich and selfish world.

Sr Carmel Leavey OP