Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – B
Reading 1 – Amos 7: 12 – 15
Psalm – 85: 9 – 14
Reading 2 – Ephesians 1: 3 – 14
Gospel – Mark 6: 7 – 13
Anyone who wants to be productive, and fruitful and successful must by all means be
unwaveringly faithful to his or her vision and mission in life. History proves that despite even
repeated and prolonged experiences of rejection, all successful individuals did not allow anything
or anyone to deter them. Undaunted, each persevered to become the person and achieve the
purpose towards which they had dedicated their lives and energies. As the disciples of Jesus every
one of us present here holds a bright a bright vision about ourselves and a strong conviction about
our, reality mission in this world.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus presents this wise piece of travel advisory to his disciples and to all
Christians. But Jesus’ version seem even harsher than what you would expect on a budget airline
like Air Canada. When you get a ticket issued by Jesus, you won’t have to struggle looking for
those small print exclusions found at the bottom of the page. It would come printed in bold right at
the very top. “ No Carry – Ons Allowed.” Well, that’s really paraphrasing the following “Take
nothing for the journey but a walking stick no food, no sack, no money… (can) wear sandals but
not a second tunic.”
Many would be tempted to think that Jesus had imposed such harsh austere conditions because it
arose from some sick sadistic pleasure to see his disciples suffer. Others would explain away the
extreme demands made by merely dismissing the whole episode as a literary hyperbole – a mere
exaggeration of the actual conditions required in order to prove a point, not to be taken literally.
Very often, we would try to escape from the rigorous constraints place by Jesus by spiritualizing
the message. But, it is clear that the most important lesson that Jesus wanted to impress on his
disciples was a radical dependence on God with regards to disciples and would be disciples. He
had made this demand right from the beginning when he called Peter and his brother Andrew and
the two siblings, James and John, from their previous stable occupations of fishing. They left not
only their possessions, a paying job, their hometowns, but also friends, relatives and even families.
Radical dependence on God means not anchoring ourselves to our present situation of life. The
conditions imposed by Jesus on travelling lightly stresses the importance of always being on the
move. We are to steer away from the temptation of growing roots, hanging on to what we possess,
holding onto relationships we have established, keeping a firm hot to positions we have acquired.
Christians need to be always on the move because we are a missionary people called to proclaim
the kingdom of God to furthest ends of the earth. Christians become overly parochical and insular
when they lose their missionary edge. Inertia makes them grow spiritually fat and lazy. When
Christians or parishes have become overburdened with heavy baggage, they no longer see the
excitement and enthusiasm of sharing their faith.
Secondly, radical dependence on God means rooting ourselves in the Church. Being dependent on
God does not mean that one is a Lone Ranger or a soloist. Jesus sent out the Twelve two by two.
Dependence on God requires dependence and submission to the community which Christ
established as his visible body, the Church. Dependence on God means communion and
collaboration with others called to the same mission. Radical dependence calls us to recognize that
the Church is the People of God moving together and journeying towards the Promised Land of
Thirdly, radical dependence means freedom from enslavement to sin, material possession, false
securities, self-sufficiency and pride. Interestingly, the four items required of the Twelve in
today’s Gospel, are identical to that which God told the Hebrews to take on their flight from Egypt
in the (Ex .12:11). The Hebrews were rescued by God from their condition of slavery in Egypt.
But eventually, they found themselves enslaved to new mastsers to the things which they brought
as additional security. This radical rejection of those items point to a second Exodus which all
Christians must take. In order to be free, one must not only be free from external masters but also
from the tyranny of self.
Fourthly, radical dependence means accepting the hospitality of God. The whole story of the Bible
could be seen through the interpretive key of hospitality. God offers hospitality to man in Creation
he builds a home and furnishes it with a that is necessary for man’s livelihood and wellbeing. God
offers hospitality to man by offering him forgiveness and reconciliation, even when man had turn
god out of his life. And finally, God offers hospitality to man through the gift of salvation. He
offers us the hospitality of heaven. “Hospitality means trusting in God’s providence. When we
move into the home of a friend who has offered us hospitality, we don’t move our entire
household, furniture, furnishings and lock stock and barrel into this new environment. We move in
with the expected hope that all or needs will be provided for God will provide for our needs. Thus
the radical dispossession of the disciples of Christ will be matched with the bountiful grace, riches
hospitality, and blessings of God. God will provide his workers with their daily bread.
So we are fully aware of our calling that has made us a chosen race, a royal priesthood and a
people set apart. We possess a remarkable vision on which we base our life mission, as Jesus
disciples. The more we are faithful to our calling the greater becomes our inner strength to endure
all rejection and opposition. If we are fully convinced of our mission for which Jesus has called us
and sent us to the present life situation, we will have sufficient power and authority from God.
Look at Amos the OT prophet in the first reading. Though his entire life has been full of
opposition and rejection due to his background, and the role he had to play as a prophet of justice
and truth he was bold enough to stand straight and energetically do what he had to do.
Jesus in the Gospel promises to his Apostles extraordinary power and authority if they adhere to
their vision and mission for which he had called them. “He summoned the Twelve and began to
send them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits.” By instructing them to
take nothing for the journey but a walking stick – no food, no sack, no money in their belts, he
wanted them to depend completely on their Lord and his calling to his mission. He also predicted
that by holding on firmly to their mission they would not be perturbed in any way, as they face any
rejection from their people, but that they would be peaceful and forgiving and have a big heart
which they would patiently endure and say good bye to them smilingly and once and for all forget
what people had done to them carrying forward none of the baggage of rejection but moved to
another place with fresh fervor. In the eyes of Jesus it is not an act of quitting, rather a courageous
act of a disciple, leaving behind heavy load of curses from God and going forward to other places
according to their destiny and mission.
This is the attitude every disciple of Jesus is supposed to possess. Let us march on in our lives to
fulfill our destiny by leaving sunset behind and seeing the sunshine in front. Jesus who has called
us to be his disciples is here at the Eucharist. Let us spiritually be nourished by him and be
strengthened in our convictions about our vision and mission.-
In Paul’s letter to Romans we hear that even in our human weakness, when we are unable to pray,
in other words when we are literally sinful, distracted, prodigal, cold, irreligious, the Spirit of the
just God comes to our aid. “The Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know
how to pray as we ought, but the spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groaning.” It means,
the God Jesus is not just enthroned in His power and justice, rather he stoops down, enters into our
very self, and joins with us in groaning, in weeping, in lamenting and in bleeding. Thus the God of
Jesus teaches us b y his deeds that those who are just must be kind. Today as we stand and kneel
in the presence of that God of justice and kindness, let us beg for his mercy and promise hi with his
help that we may both be just and kind toward our neighbors, especially to our spouses, children,
parents and to our dear and near ones.
As Christians, we are often tempted to surround ourselves with several layers of security blankets,
to get into the rut of daily routine and develop inertia against change. The radical call o Jesus,
however, shakes us from our stupour. Christians are meant to always be uprooted whilst rotted in
Christ. They are meant to live on the edge whilst living in dependence of God’s providence. They
are called go out on a limn whilst attached to the True Vine who gives them life. They are called
to travel lightly whilst carrying the heavy weight of being effective, witnesses of the good news of
salvation. Only the, can the Kingdom of God be seen not only as the content of their message but
in the testimony of their lives.
God bless. Have a blessed day.