READINGS: Amos 7:12-15, Eph 1:3-14, Mk 6:7-13
THE MISSIONARY CHURCH
What is Evangelization? How does it apply to you and me? By virtue of our Baptism, we have been called and set apart for the preaching of the Gospel and in turn hopefully win souls for God.
There is a story of daily life where we are in constant relationship with others. How we communicate with others, how we reach out and give a helping hand, how we can be used by God in ordinary circumstances of our normal day without even realizing that God is actually using us to be prophets, to evangelize, to convey spiritual blessings on to others and by just living out the Gospel by the richness of His grace.
In the First Reading today, Bethel means “The House of God” in Hebrew. This House of God, the royal sanctuary, or the national temple, is where Amos was forbidden to do any prophesying. Yet it is precisely mentioned in Genesis 12:8 where Abram pitched his tent. It is there at Bethel that he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord.
The prophesying of Amos was done in the name of the Lord as he was specially chosen to “Go and prophesy to my people Israel”. Amos was an ordinary herdsman, herding flock, yet God chose him to do a great task.
In the Second Reading of Ephesians, we are told that before the world was made, God chose us in Christ. He endowed us with spiritual blessings and set us apart for a special purpose. Through our Baptism, we are called from time eternity to act out of this mysterious grace and to run the race to the end which God has predestined for us. In Baptism and Confirmation, we have been sealed with the Holy Spirit in order to evangelize and to bring people close to God.
In the Gospel today, we hear of how Jesus summons the Twelve and sends them out in pairs to have authority over the unclean spirits. They are to travel lightly and preach in His Name, healing the sick, and casting out demons. He gave them authority to preach, even though they were uneducated, just simple fishermen. Going back to Amos, he was just a herdsman looking after flock, yet God chose him to go and prophesy.
If we apply all this to our lives, we can learn from the prophet Amos and from the Twelve that God uses ordinary people to preach in His name. A way to evangelize simply and to preach His Word does not require doctorates in theology or having a specialized education. A simple conversation in a plane with your neighbour can strike a chord and can really bring Jesus home to people. Jesus promises the Twelve that He will be with them always until the end of time. They are to baptize people in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and make His name known to all nations. We can take a leaf out of their book and imitate their bravery. It is not always easy to prophesy like Amos or to evangelize like the Twelve especially if we fear being ridiculed and insulted. Yet, men and women today who take their faith seriously and who have a deep relationship with Christ find themselves swimming against the tide as they are sent to preach and witness their faith in God to all people whom they encounter. They are great imitators of Christ. They identify with Him. They sit and listen to people. They give of themselves by an extension of the Eucharist. Without doing much, we can be called by God to heal the sick, cast out demons, give sight to the blind and encounter Christ in each other. This is what evangelization means; we are to become like Jesus, loving like He does, caring for others like He does and being a light in the darkness.
To quote Saint Mother Teresa, on working for Christ means: “To do, the work of Christ is really quite simple. It means to be faithful, in little things, for to be faithful in little things is a big thing. It means to do one’s task, no matter how humble it may be, not only thoroughly but joyfully. It means to make oneself available, yet never to seek the limelight. It means to strive to make oneself useful without seeking to push oneself. It means to carry one’s burden, without – as far as possible – becoming a burden on others. In a word, it means to be at one’s post, helpful and faithful, loyal, and constant”.
In conclusion, when Pope Francis on 29 June 2013, released Evangelii Gaudium: The Joy of the Gospeli, he put before the Church her primary mission of evangelization in the modern world. In his opening paragraph, Pope Francis urged the entire Church to “embark on a new chapter of evangelization”.
Let us take these words of Pope Francis seriously, modern day disciples of Christ as we are, taking His Word to the ends of the earth. In so doing, we are not just on fire with the Word, but we become the Word, being instruments of His love, joy, mercy and compassion to all whom we encounter.
It is helpful for us to reflect on where God has sent us to tell about the Kingdom and to ask ourselves, how is it going?
Sr Columbia Fernandez O.P