Divine Mission Sending: 15th Sunday
Sermon by Emmanuel Suntheni OSB
SERMON AND CHRISTIAN ACT IN THE WORD
Theme: Divine Mission Sending – An act of Transformation
Point of reflection: Today, God is commissioning us Christians. Today, God is sending us Christians. Today, God is providing us a transformation of heart and mind. Has God ever sent me or us for a mission? Have I ever received a mission? How has God transformed my life? What moments can I point out as marks of God’s transformation in my life? These reflective questions have been responded in the Scriptural readings of today:
First Reading: Amos 7:12–15
Psalm: Psalm 85:9–14
Second Reading: Ephesians 1:3–14
Gospel: Mark 6:7–13
Sermon (Reflection): Today’s Scriptural readings contain stories of remarkable transformations and Divine Sending for Mission.
These stories demonstrate how God transforms the everyday existence of ordinary human beings, into a remarkable and extraordinary life.
Those so transformed by God become the channels of God’s grace, and the servants carrying out God’s designs for salvation. Such transformed lives serve the purpose so aptly defined by the Psalmist in the words, “so that God’s glory may dwell in our land.”
The Gospel passage of today (Cf. Mark 6:7–13) focuses on Jesus’ closest followers. These twelve individuals were low-class Galilean Jews who led very ordinary lives. Several of them were fishermen. There was nothing extraordinary that distinguished them from the rest of the population, and the text is silent on the reasons why Jesus chose these individuals rather than others.
This is a divine choice. Jesus Christ freely chose the twelve and send them for a mission. Before sending them, He transformed them. During our baptism, we are all sent for a mission, since then until now, have we been transformed?
Transformation of the heart is more important than mere words of preaching the Gospel.
Today’s Gospel portrays the remarkable transformation that these twelve men underwent. Up to this point in the story, Jesus alone performed all the significant acts – He exorcises demons, healed, and proclaimed the good news. But in today’s account, Jesus bestows His authority on these ordinary Galileans, mandating them to do exactly what He has been doing.
They are to exorcise demons as proof that God’s power operates in the world. They are to travel without any provisions showing that their ministry is not profit-oriented but God-sustained.
This is a very reflective point for religious people and people working for the Church, what is our ministry as a priest, as a deacon, as a bishop, as a cardinal, as a parishioner? Is it to make a profit in name of the Church? Our ministry in the Church should be God-sustained-oriented not profit-oriented ministry.
Furthermore, like Jesus in Nazareth, they should expect rejection. If this should happen, they are symbolically to “shake off the dust from their feet”. Every pious Jew, returning from the Gentile lands, was supposed to do just that, to prevent any uncleanness from entering the Holy Land. By this symbolic act, the disciples were to manifest that those who rejected the good news rejected God, and became like the Gentiles.
Remarkably, these ordinary men carried out these extraordinary tasks successfully and became in their ministry like Jesus Christ. They have been transformed from simple fishermen and workmen, into God’s emissaries and delegates of Jesus Christ.
In the second reading (Cf. Ephesians 1:3–14)we encounter the election of some believers in the form of transformation and sending them. Quite interesting to note, is that, unlike most New Testament letters, Ephesians does not begin with commendation and praise of the addressees. Instead, the author opens the letter with an elaborate thanksgiving to God. In it, he recognises and expresses gratitude for “every spiritual blessing” that God bestowed on believers.
First, God elected believers to be his own, holy and blameless people. This state of holiness and blamelessness was not the reason but the purpose for which they were chosen. This purpose was achieved by Christ, who redeemed and sanctified them through his blood.
Reconciled to God in this manner, believers have a splendid future. Today too as Christians, we have been chosen and given a splendid future, our Christian duty is to accept and live holy life for the Kingdom of God.
Next, the author writes about the great mystery which has been revealed to believers. This mystery is God’s intent “to gather up all things in Christ, things in heaven and things on earth”. This highly theological concept means that all of history, and all beings in the universe, will be brought together in Christ. The author implies that Christ will become the supreme authority over all creation, and everything will exist in a harmonious union with God through Christ. This union is the Christians’ definitive vocation, their exhilarating future. Today, as a Church, we need to be united.
The author concludes by highlighting the great dignity of the believers, based on this vocation. Because of what Christ did for them, believers now have the “inheritance”, which is their eternal destiny to share in God’s glory. They already possess this inheritance in as much as they live in accordance with the Gospel, and place themselves under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
This transforms them into the likeness of heavenly beings living on earth and moving towards their heavenly home. Not long before, the Ephesians were pagans who worshipped stone statues and lived a debauched life. Now, these very individuals are God’s elect, destined for eternal glory.
Truly an amazing transformation has taken place, one that was in accordance with God’s design and accomplished through Christ’s salvific work.
In today’s first reading(Cf. Amos 7:12–15) we encounter Amos. Amos was a humble shepherd and a forester. He neither chose nor aspired to be a prophet. He had no background or credentials that would warrant such a noble calling. The sole source of his prophetic authority and mission was God’s commission, which turned this simple shepherd into God’s mouthpiece.
Relying on the royal authority, Amaziah ordered Amos to get out of the Northern Kingdom and forbade him to speak at Bethel. Amos responded to this command pointing to his prophetic authority, which came directly from God. With God’s authority behind him, the lowly prophet dared to confront the Northern Kingdom with its king and chief priest. This dramatic transformation that took place in Amos could happen only through God’s intervention. God did intervene, transforming a simple shepherd into God’s imposing and powerful messenger.
Today too as Christians, we empowered to be transformed, what we need in our Christian daily life is transformation of the heart.
Christian Act in Word of God “Amazing Transformation”
This Sunday’s liturgy presents us with the act of mission sending and amazing examples of transformation; showing that our ordinary life is under the constant transforming power of God, even if we do not realise it. The readings invite us to pay keen attention to the rhythm of our life and recognise God’s intervention and its effect in our life.
Today’s good news is the assurance that God transforms us from our lowly state to become his agents. The first reading shows how God transformed Amos from a herdsman and a dresser of sycamore trees to a great prophet. Amos humbled himself and acknowledged his lowly state. His acknowledgement and openness became the starting point for God’s action in him. His honesty, humility and openness earned him God’s favour.
As it was for Amos, so for us, when we walk humbly and honestly before the Lord, we make it possible for God to intervene in our lives, and to effect a transformation that will make us his own.
He in fact does just this daily in our ordinary lives; his transforming grace is always available for us. Even this ordinary Sunday presents us with the possibility of transformation when we hear what the Lord God speaks to us in the liturgy.
Today’s readings also remind us that our transformation began at the foundation of the world. God has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing and desires that we remain holy and blameless in his sight. The greatest transformation we have attained is redemption through Christ’s blood, resulting in the forgiveness of our sins.
God intervened to effect our redemption out of his immense love for us. He removed the disgrace of sin, that would otherwise have kept us in despair. Through his Son, he transformed us from our sinful state to a state that makes us worthy to stand before him and become his representatives. This redemption sets us on a journey towards our heavenly home.
As we continue this journey, we need to ensure that this transformation is holistic. All our actions are to be in line with the transformation we have received. The way we live in our families, behave in the workplace, relate with our neighbours, gather in our small Christian communities, should all communicate a life that is under God’s transforming hand.
Finally, the Gospel presents to us ordinary fishermen, remarkably transformed to become God’s instruments. This transformation enables them to do what Jesus himself has been doing. If Jesus chose them, he also chooses us. Like them, we are ordinary people. Like them we trust him. Therefore, Jesus chooses us today and is ready to empower us to continue his mission.
We are invited to shake off the dust that hinders us from responding to his voice, the dust that pollutes us. Often, if they are not rooted in Christ, our behaviour, attitudes, attractions, and ambitions can pollute and burden us. God’s transformation requires our openness to hear what Jesus speaks and to respond to his voice.
Our transformation can be unique and real. God transforms our ordinary life to a state worthy of himself. He redeems us and makes us his own. When our transformation is complete, God empowers and gives us authority over unclean spirits, thus becoming a means to bring about his kingdom.
Let us set our hope on Christ, the agent of transformation so that our life can reflect the glory of God on our land. Great things happen when God mixes with us!
Action: My prayer during this week will be accepting the mission that God has sent me during my baptism and to open my heart for transformation. I need to be transformed.
Prayer: God our Father, open our hearts to accept your divine mission-sending which we received during baptism, send your Holy Spirit to transform our hearts that we become good people. Help us to respond to your call and be open to the transformation that you bring to us. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit one God forever and ever. Amen