This weekend I covered the Masses at Saint Benedict’s, East Brisbane, and Saint Joseph’s, Kangaroo Point (overseas readers might be amused that we even name our suburbs after kangaroos)! There are no kangaroos visible, however, in inner-city Brisbane anymore. These days, Kangaroo Point is more noted for its cliffs alongside the Brisbane River which are popular for rock-climbing. The top of the cliffs, with their great views over to Southbank and the city, are also a popular vantage point for fireworks displays throughout the year.
The text of my homily follows:
(Readings: Amos 7:12-15; Ps 85; Eph 1:2-14; Mk 6:7-13)
One theme that we find in our readings today is the reality of what we call “divine election.” Whether we know it or not, God chose us in Christ, before the foundation of the world. The beautiful passage from Saint Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians reminds us that long before we came into being God had us in mind, to be filled with all his blessings, and so that we might exist for the praise of God’s glory. The Collect (or Opening Prayer) of Mass today reminded us that to hear God’s voice and follow him is a gift of the Father, who shows the light of his truth to those who go astray, so that they can return to him. God has eternally predestined us to enjoy happiness with Him.
Even if we “chose” baptism as an adult, that choice of ours is really only a response to God who chose us first – and in fact who had chosen us from all eternity. For all of us, our Christian vocation – whether we consider the common call to holiness or the specific call that each of us has – that call is God’s initiative, to which we respond.
This is illustrated in our First Reading. Amos the prophet is facing opposition and rejection. Amos’ response is straightforward in which he says, effectively, “Look, I’m only doing this because the Lord took me from what I was doing, and told me to go prophesy to the people of Israel.”
It is interesting to consider that the idea that God had us in mind before the world was formed is even written into creation itself. Some scientists and philosophers of science suggest that from the very time of the ‘big bang’ that it almost appears to be designed so that human life could be possible. It appears that as little as half a degree difference in the initial temperature at creation would have made our world impossible.
As Christians we believe that God did design for the universe for man, and that everything was created in, through and for Christ. Everything in creation has passed through the loving hands of the Son of God. All creation is marked by the grace of God. For the person of faith, they come to realise that the purpose of everything is to lead us to God and to share the happiness of his life. This is what we were created for; this is what God had in mind from all eternity.
Today’s Gospel reminds us that we who have come to this realisation of God’s call to us, and his purpose for all creation, are charged with the responsibility of being missionaries of this vision to and for others. For not everyone is aware of God’s love. Not everyone is aware that their happiness corresponds to the extent that they live in tune with God’s will for them. Not everyone realizes that their ultimate purpose is union with God, to praise his glory for all eternity.
In this world in which we see a lot of pain, strife, and brokenness, how much do we need the message that the Lord loves us with an eternal love. More even than those who have loved us the most, the love of Christ is greater, and it never fails. The love of Christ is the only love that can be guaranteed to be with us every step of the way, even through death. This is the message that we are meant to take “to the world.”
In the sending of the Twelve, Jesus urges a simplicity in the mission of evangelization. The Twelve didn’t have to take lots of things with them – in fact, they were really just to take themselves. We could contemporize this and say that to be Christ’s missionaries in the world today, we don’t need to write the best books, or have the best websites, or even be the best preachers. It’s meant to be the witness of our lives that speaks, the way that we live: how we trust in God’s love in our lives; how we share the Lord’s compassion with others; how we try to give up those un-Christlike aspects of our personalities that we sometimes wrongly cling to; how we try to allow God’s grace to make us more Christ-like.
Just as Amos faced rejection, Jesus acknowledges that those he sends out will sometimes meet people who aren’t interested in their message. This is what Jesus himself experienced, so why would it be any different for his followers? Our Lord himself couldn’t convince everyone of his message, so who are we to think that we’ll be more successful than he himself?
Jesus urges the same simplicity in the face of rejection: to shake the dust off our feet. We can imagine that in Jesus day, with the footwear they wore then, their feet would have got very dusty. Just as dust clings to feet, so too can our reactions to rejection cling to us: we can feel hurt, angry, bitter. But we’re to shake off our reactions to rejection just as we shake dust off our feet. The simplicity of Jesus’ way is simply to move on. We leave those who don’t want to listen to us, trusting that others may be able to share Christ’s message with them better than us, and perhaps at another time, when the time is right.
As we reflect on the Word of God today, let’s be grateful that we are part of God’s eternal plan. God has loved us and called us from all eternity to enjoy the happiness of his life. Let’s be aware too that Jesus calls us and sends us to share this message with others, so that they too can enjoy the divine life. May this Eucharist strengthen us to be the Lord’s missionaries of His love in our own time and place.
Acknowledgement to www.sacerdos.org.