Reflections on the Readings for Sunday 15 July 2012
Amos 7:12-15; Psalm 85:9-14; Ephesians 1:3-14; Mark 6:7-13
Amos was not born and trained to the life of a prophet. He was a farmer from Judah, but God sent him as a prophet to the neighbouring state of Israel where he bravely challenged the king and defied the priest. He may not have chosen this vocation for himself, but the book of Amos shows his amazing skill at weaving words and images to powerfully communicate the word of God. God gave him the gift he needed to perform his mission. Amos is the ‘social justice’ prophet par excellence. He preached that social injustice would lead to the destruction of the society. It was not a message that the king or the priest wanted to hear because it condemned their privileged lifestyles. They were blind to the fact that the message which challenged and made them uncomfortable was ultimately a message of peace, because no society can have real and lasting peace without justice, kindness and truth.
Jesus’ disciples were a group of ordinary people including fishermen, a tax collector and a freedom fighter. They were also sent on a mission. They weren’t to take much with them but were to rely on the hospitality of others. They were warned that some would not welcome them or listen to them. Like Amos, they were to preach that people should change their lifestyles and open themselves to God’s gracious transformation. Their words were accompanied by powerful signs that God was at work to break evil’s power and to bring wholeness.
As I read these texts, I automatically identified with Amos and with the disciples, and began to think of my own sense of calling. But isn’t there an Amaziah in me as well? We think it crazy that anyone would not welcome Jesus’ disciples, but how open are we to the message of repentance? Of course we want to see healing and wholeness in our lives and peace in our society, but are we willing to listen to God’s spokespersons, to let their challenge take root in our hearts in a way that changes how we live? Do we even recognise the voice of God or do we write off the message because it doesn’t come through the channel we want to listen to?
If we are too comfortable with the status quo or too afraid of change then we don’t recognise the message for what it is: the unbelievably gracious invitation of God into fullness of life. What Paul writes about the believers in Ephesus is true of all who are in Christ. They are richly blessed, extravagantly loved, completely forgiven, given a part to play in God’s magnificent symphony of life and caught up into God’s glorious future. Why would anyone want to hold on to destructive ways of living and being or cherish the empty baubles won by a selfish lifestyle in the face of such divine generosity?