Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Readings: Amos 7:12-15; Ephesians 1:3-14; Mark 6:7-13
They Set off to Preach Repentance
Jesus today sends forth his disciples to preach repentance and bring healing to peoples’ lives. The mandate is clear; no possessions, depend on the generosity of the people, but preach repentance and bring healing.
In our Parish, here in Alice Springs, we have Bible Sharing every Wednesday evening and we look at the Gospel reading for the coming Sunday and share how the words from that Gospel inspire us. Last Wednesday, when we took up this Sunday’s Gospel, I was touched by the above words, “They set off to preach repentance.” Basically because, they were the follow up from the words from the Gospel of Mark 3:14, “and he appointed twelve; they were to be his companions and to be sent out to proclaim the message,” which also happens to be my Ordination Motto, “To be with Him and to be sent out” and I was so please to see these words in practice in the lives of the disciples. They were called and prepared by Jesus and now is the time to be sent out to preach the message.
One of the privileges we have as priests is to break open the Word to the congregation. The Word that is spoken to us today through the Gospel is a practical message of being completely dependent on God, when we are sent forth to preach the message. The message the Apostles were sent to preach was that of repentance. And it is the same message we are called to reflect on today, repentance.
What is repentance? Repentance is turning back to God and loving God with all my heart, soul, and mind. More easily said than done though! There are so many things and thought patterns are at work around us and they tempt us away from God. There are so many ideologies in the world, they make us, sometimes, even question the existence of God. I am shocked to see some of our own children, brought up in the Catholic families, proclaiming very clearly, “I don’t believe in God!” All this is the result of us not being able to turn back to God and experience that love that is poured out for us. If I do not have that love in my heart, how can I share it with my family and the children? Something to seriously think about!
Let us also remember, when we repent and turn back to God, there will be many setbacks and we will be challenged and ridiculed, sometimes, by our own family and friends. The first reading today talks of such ridicule experienced by the Prophet Amos, who was challenged by Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, to go back to Judah and prophesy there! But Amos knew his calling and stood his ground, for it is the Lord who had said to him, “Go, prophesy to my people Israel.”
How can I then hold on to my faith, repent and believe in God, and proclaim this message to people around me? Quite simple, actually! Live as Jesus lived, love as he loved and forgive as he forgave. Again, more easily said than done! Yes, it is not easy, not easy to live a simple life, hard to feel completely dependent on God, and extremely hard to love unconditionally, but not impossible! As I always say, one step at a time, one small act at a time, one gentle smile at a time, and eventually, unbeknown to us we will be living as Jesus lived, loved and forgave.