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15 Sunday of ordinary time B

July 11, 2021

Mark 6: 7-13

By Rev. John Tran

The first reading and the gospel today are about God giving a call to service; but the people called are not the people we would expect to be called. The prophet Amos readily admits that he is not professional prophet, but rather a only a shepherd and a dresser of sycamore trees. He was an ordinary man trying to make an honest living, and not at all interested in bringing God’s unsettling word to people who did not want to hear it.

We find the same story in the gospel calls. These are ordinary men, also trying to make a living by hard work; they were not particularly observant of the Law of Moses, but did what they could. These men called to be apostles certainly were not expecting to be called to bring God’s message. Again, their future hearers were not always interested in the message. And, the one calling them was not well-know Teacher, but an ordinary country rabbi. I think we can safely say that, on the face of it, we would not expect much from them.

But these Twelve could not have expected what would follow over the next three years. One thing they did know was that whatever power they had, whatever success the achieved, was not because of their own talent and ability. Rather, it totally came from the Lord who told them what to say; they were only instruments of any cures worked through them. They were not called to self glorification, but to humility, realizing that God worked through them, sometimes in spite of them. Every accomplishment is from God.

It is St. Paul in his Letter to the Ephesians who gives us a clue as to what has happened. Through the Father’s Love, “he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ.” It is only by being made into the very Body of Christ and brought into God’s own divinity that his mercy and love is shown to others.

Now that is humbling; we are chosen by the Father through the Son and in the Holy Spirit to be the instrument of God’s love and mercy. If we really let ourselves understand what this really means, we would fall to our knees never to rise again.

But rise we must, because there is no one else to be sent. This must have been the feeling of Amos and the Twelve. So, it is through this very Ordinary Time, that we must figure out how each is called and how we are to be the instrument of the Father’s grace.

During the wind-swept city Bridge-War, a small Korean village came under heavy artillery fire. When the smoke of the battle cleared away, the pastor of the parish sought the help of some American soldiers in restoring to its pedestal a fallen statue of Christ. Since the statue’s hands were gone, the soldiers planned to mold two new hands. The pastor, however, came up with a very meaningful suggestion: “Let us leave the statue as it is and write on the front of the pedestal the words, “Friend, lend me your hands.” Sending apostles as ambassadors to preach the “Good News” and to heal the sick, Jesus, in today’ Gospel, reminds us that we are, and only have the gifts of working hands to raise the fallen; feet to seek out the lost; ears to listen to the lonely; and a tongue to speak words of sympathy and encouragement to those weighed down by sorrow, pain and failure that Jesus may work through us to heal, strengthen, comfort and teach on earth in our day.

A group of young people from many nations was discussing how the Gospel might be spread. They talked of propaganda, of literature, of all the ways of disseminating the Gospel in the twentieth century. Then a girl from Africa spoke. “When we want to take Christianity to one of our villages,” she said, “we don’t send them books. We take a Christian family and send them to live in the village and they make the village Christian by living there.” We are God's instruments to bring his love and mercy where it is needed, and to do this we don't have to be great preachers or miracle workers; all we have to do is live the gospel. This is not an easy task, and it takes a lifetime. But it is what is most needed here, right where we are.

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