(God has chosen you… And you… And you… And me.)
Amos and all the prophets, Peter and Andrew, James and John and each of the Twelve as well as Barnabas and Paul, Mathias and Stephen the first martyr and you and I, all of us called by God according to God’s plan.
God’s plan, how often different from ours.
Amos was content to mind his own flocks and his orchards. This was a far cry from God’s plan for him to speak out against injustice and calling for the conversion of the people of the Northern Kingdom of Israel.
Amos is just one of many prophets who must have responded to God and asked, “why me?” Yet, once chosen they not only preach God’s word, but are filled with God’s passion for justice and righteousness.
The Twelve were fishermen and farmers, tax collectors and ordinary folks like you and me. Yet, they were chosen and called by Jesus. In in today’s gospel, he sends them out with recognition that they were going to be fighting against evil as they spread the good news of the freedom of the Kingdom of God.
The Twelve went out with nothing more than a companion, the clothes on their backs and the passion of Jesus in their hearts. Mark tells us that they preached “repentance,” that is in Greek, metanoia, meaning a change of heart and soul, mind and understanding, a message that invites people to believe in God’s Kingdom, God’s alternative to the reality that they experience around them.
What they are sent to preach, is the message that had caught them in Jesus’ net in the first place and the only thing they really had to offer the people they were going to meet. It was that message that chased away the demons and evil one’s conviction that nothing can change.
The healings the apostles performed, like those Jesus worked, where the signs of that different reality, signs of what the Kingdom of God is like and proof that it is possible.
The stores of Amos and the twelve whom Jesus sent out are stories of people who are captivated. They were people who allowed themselves to be chosen and changed into more than they ever thought they could be.
For that to happen, they had to be willing to leave their sycamores, sheep and seashore. They had to allow their hearts to be vulnerable to the touch of God who offers endless possibilities.
Today’s selection from the letter to the Ephesians is one long prayer of thanks to God for having chosen us to participate in Christ’s life and the hope Christ brings. This reading fits between the stories of Amos and the sending of the apostles as a reminder to us that we share their call.
Maybe the hardest mystery for us to believe is that, as St. Paul says, “God has chosen us in Christ to be holy.”
Let me repeat that: may be the hardest mystery for us to believe is that “God has chosen us in Christ to be holy.”
God, the creator of the universe, the infinite one without beginning or end has chosen you, and you, and you and me to be holy, to be like God’s very self in Christ his only begotten son, the Alpha and the Omega. Maybe this reality is too overwhelming for us to truly realize on this warm Sunday morning.
Yet, this is the deepest of realities, the reality we celebrate every time we come to Mass where heaven and earth meet.
Listen once again to these words to the Ephesians:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has a blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, and chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy.
“In love, God destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ, in accord with the favor of his will, for the praise of the glory of his grace that God granted us in the beloved.
“In Christ, we have redemption by his blood, for the forgiveness of transgressions, in accord with the riches of his grace that God lavished upon us.”
In accordance to God’s plan, God has chosen us in Christ. God has called us in Christ. God blesses us in Christ. God sends us in Christ to bless others with this good news just as we have been blessed.
God wants us to bless our spouse with this call to holiness, to help our spouse become a saint and get to heaven.
God wants us to bless our children and their families with this call to holiness, by being a household of prayer, reading sacred Scripture, praying for one another and blessing one another rather than bickering and fighting and being absorbed in the screen of our phone, our tablet, our computer and our TV.
God wants us to bless our neighbors and our coworkers and our fellow students with this call to holiness by praying for them and sharing the gift of our faith with them.
God wants us to bless our nation by being prophets like Amos in calling out injustice in our immigration laws and enforcement, unjust tax burdens on the poor, accumulation of massive fortunes for a few and minimal benefits for the many.
On this warm Sunday morning in July, God longs for us to be overwhelmed by his love for us and his call to us to share that love with others.
God longs for us to be prophets of his word of eternal life.
God longs for us to be a people of passion for God’s kingdom.
God longs for us to drive out the demons of hatred and judgment, discrimination and oppression, secularism and relativism and to know and live the Truth of Jesus and the freedom of the call to holiness in Christ Jesus our Lord.