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Sunday 12th July

Gospel: Mark 6:7-13

The prophet is one who is called to be the conscience of the nation, the interpreter of the times. In the Old Testament God speaks to the people through the prophets about the nature of God and about the demands of being a follower, the demands listed in the psalm; justice, peace, faithfulness and mercy. Amos is one such prophet. He is, by his own admission a humble man from a simple background, a herdsman and gardener of sorts. ‘I was a herdsman and looked after sycamores’.

His message is a thunderous denunciation of the lavish lifestyle of the rich, of the crookedness of business life and of the worship of the people whose lives are punctuated by these crimes. He leaves his part of his divided country to preach honesty, repentance, and true worship. The message and the bearer of the message are not welcome. He is ordered to go away, to go back to where he came from, to earn his bread there.

The disciples are sent out with instructions from Christ to leave the unnecessary baggage of the world, which weighs us down, behind. They are told to visit, to preach repentance, and to anoint the sick. This is still the work of the pastoral priest. He tells them to travel lightly and to expect rejection. There will be those who will refuse even to listen and there is no guarantee of welcome.

The challenging message of a disciple will never meet or satisfy the superficial needs or expectations of many. Christ and the message of the gospel answer a deeper hunger, slake a deeper thirst. The people are to be awakened to the message and the mystery of Christ yet many prefer to remain asleep or to sleep-walk through life.

Amos the prophet and later, the disciples, had very special roles in the story of salvation. There are always extraordinary people in every generation who are known by the authentic lives they lead; by the evidence of the gifts of the Holy Spirit in their lives; by the authority they so obviously have; by the truth and by the challenge of their message.

It is not something to which we can merely be a spectator. Each one is called to holiness in baptism, and anointed in Christ’s name to share his functions as priest, prophet and king. We are called to unload ourselves of the baggage of the world. We are sent out to live the Christian love we proclaim; to preach the truth of the gospel in and out of season. It does not matter whether we are a herdsman or a king. The high standards of justice and Christian love are for all. We are all sent out, as at the end of Mass, to love and serve God. ‘Ite, Missa Est’.