1st Reading – Amos 7: 12-15
Amos was a relative nobody – or as he says a shepherd and a dresser of sycamores (a seasonal job which involved puncturing their fig-like fruit at a certain time – it improved the taste). He was not a ‘professional or ordained’ religious person; Amaziah was a priest of Bethel, the royal sanctuary, sort of a national cathedral. Amos was not getting paid to ‘make’ the king look good – or to ‘stroke his ego’. We do know that he felt called by God to speak this powerful and unpopular message. He was not called because he was great; he is great because he responded to God’s call and did as God requested. In this way Amos prefigures those in the gospel who are sent out.(Living Liturgy, 2003, 171)
Amos sounds like he was comfortable with his pursuit in life as a shepherd and then God called him to be a prophet to the people. Have you ever felt “comfortable” but had a nagging sense that God was calling you to something more? Amos was almost like an early Robin Hood. He had a mission – proclaim God’s Word to the people, no matter how unpopular or unpatriotic it may be, even if it meant castigating the king (Word & Worship, Birmingham, 565). Think of the focus and determination he must have had…could you do it?
2nd Reading – The Letter to the Ephesians 1: 3-14
This letter is like a love letter…we are chosen, blessed, adopted by a God who loves us. It is doubtful that Paul actually wrote this letter, but it might have been based on previous letters he had written. It is a collection of prayers and preaching, probably an ancient liturgical hymn used in the baptismal liturgy (W&W, Birmingham, 565).
From Can You Drink the Cup? Henri Nouwen:
Jesus took upon himself all this suffering and lifted it up on the cross, not as a curse but as a blessing. He gave himself away for us, so that we may live in community. He became for us food and drink so that we can be fed for everlasting life. The Eucharist is that sacred mystery through which what we lived as a curse we now live as a blessing (p. 74-75). This is what this letter to the Ephesians is getting at. We are blessed and made holy by Christ. We are chosen to be one with Him. We enter into this mystery at Eucharist in a tangible way. We are all welcome to the table. Do you feel these words when you receive Eucharist?
The Gospel – Mark 6: 7-13
From Living Liturgy, 2003, 170: In our own lives we carry much baggage on our journey as disciples of Jesus. We have closets full of clothes, pantries and refrigerators full of food . . . The practical instructions of Jesus might not suit us well today; it might even be irresponsible to divest ourselves of all of our possessions. It could certainly be dangerous to go out ‘hitch-hiking’ through the country to try to share the good news of Jesus Christ. At the same time, this gospel does invite us to examine what it is that hinders us in our day and society from fulfilling our mission on which Jesus sends us.
What distracts us? What fears and attitudes get in our way? What burdens do we carry needlessly? What keeps us from living our baptism?
Jesus sent the disciples with oil. Oil was commonly used in the treatment of medical conditions, thus it was appropriately associated with Jesus’ miraculous healing mission. Jesus used the things of ordinary life and common experience to demonstrate God’s incredible power – water, mud, spittle, bread, wine (W&W, Birmingham, 567). Where is God in the ordinary of your life today?
“Shake the dust off your feet” is almost taking a stand in nonviolence. No retaliation, just move on. There are no grudges. Can you shake the dust off your feet if someone is unwelcoming to you? By knowing where they were welcome, it set up a network of safe houses for the disciples. Perhaps this was the beginning of the early church.