SUNDAY, FIFTEENTH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
Am 7:12-15; Ps 85:9-14; Eph 1:3-14; Mk 6:7-13
YOU ARE WHO HE SAYS YOU ARE
In the Gospel of Matthew, we hear Jesus asking, “Who do you say I am?” (cf. 16:15) It is a very personal, intimate question. Imagine your family member, a friend or a co-worker asking you this question. I’m sure none of us will have the answer ready or be able to reply suitably, without pondering over the question for some time. When Peter answered Jesus rightfully proclaiming him to be the son of the Living God, Jesus glorified his Father in heaven for revealing it to him.
In the past months, amid the pandemic, a second wave having taken away so many lives and the dread of another growing, might have many asking God defiantly and angrily, “Who are we to you Lord? Why have you forsaken us? Why have you turned your face from us?” Many might have convinced themselves of the lie that God does not care or even exist. We don’t have to go too far to imagine how Jesus would respond to us. In the same chapter of Matthew, Jesus says, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me. You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” (v. 23)
Let us delve into who God says we are. Today’s liturgy gives us a deep insight into this. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul assures us that we were chosen by God the Father, in Jesus Christ, even before the foundation of the world. Amos, much referred to as the prophet of doom, does not even acknowledge himself as a prophet before Amaziah, the priest of Bethel. All he claimed to be was a ‘herdsman, plucking wild figs.’. It was because God had a plan for his life and saw who he was and who he could be, Amos was called to the mission to prophesy to Israel.
When the world tells us that we fall under certain racial, religious, demographic, gender, intelligence, and caste-based categories, it tries to put us into a labelled box. When we start believing these labels, we limit and restrict our God-given abilities in countless ways. It affects the way we think, feel and perform. It affects our spiritual life and draws us into a secluded and enclosed place where we feel alone and separated from God, an easy prey for darkness, for Satan to play his tricks. It is at this time, that we must ponder on who God says we are. The master of the earth, who is obeyed by the wind and the rain cares much about you and me. As the psalmist proclaims, in the salvation of Jesus, “mercy and truth have met each other; justice and peace have kissed.”
It is this Jesus who leaves us with a mission. Just like Amos, he picks us up from where we are and takes us where we need to be, if we hold on to his promise in faith. Today’s gospel draws a close resemblance to our world today. Jesus was rejected in his own town; many doubted him, possibly labelled him. They wanted to shut him and his disciples in a labelled box. In fact, Jesus was amazed at their lack of faith, and could not perform many miracles. It was under such circumstances that he sent out his disciples in twos, with very specific instructions.
As disciples of Christ, we are invited today to break free from the shackles of this world’s labels and go out to preach the good news of the gospel, knowing our worth in Christ. He wants us to continue focusing on who he says we are. We are his own, loved by the Father, set apart since the beginning of time, capable of performing miracles, casting out demons, anointing our brethren by the power that he has given us through his life, death and resurrection. There is power in this belief, there is power in this knowledge, and here is where we will see the miracles that we were meant to witness all along!
“Let us consider our place in the sight of God and of his angels. Let us rise in chanting that our hearts and voices harmonize.” The Rule of St. Benedict
Response: Let us see, O Lord, your mercy, and grant us your salvation.
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