Homily for the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Pope Benedict XVI once said that “it is the duty of the Church to proclaim always and everywhere the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” This is a task that has been the responsibility of the Church from the very beginning. (And by Church, I don’t just mean the institutional church, I mean all of us – the people of God.) Throughout this week, if you had the opportunity to attend Daily Mass or read the readings for those Masses, this has been something the Church has been reminding us of. And it is something that she again reminds us of today.
In our first reading, Amos has been sent to prophesy to the people of Israel. But because he is a poor shepherd and not someone others would see as a prophet, he is ridiculed and rejected. In fact, he is accused by the priest in charge of the shrine at Bethel of prophesying as a scam to get food. Amos responds by saying that the only reason he is prophesying was because the Lord had chosen him and sent him to do so. Amos is only being faithful to the invitation that God had given him and so he goes out and calls the people of Israel to repentance and conversion.
In our Gospel passage from Mark, we hear that Jesus sends his apostles to go out and proclaim the Good News of salvation. (In fact, the very meaning of the word apostle is “one who is sent.”) He instructs them on how He wants that done. Those instructions are very specific. He tells them that their mission is to preach and to share in His authority to heal and to drive out demons. He sends them in pairs, establishing that this mission is not something that is supposed to be done individually – there is a communal aspect to it. “Jesus also instructs them to travel lightly, without the customary food, money, and extra set of clothes.” He tells them what to do if people accept the message and what to do if people don’t accept the message. “These instructions mean that the Twelve will be dependent on the hospitality of others, just as Jesus depended on others to provide for His needs.”
What the Father invited Amos to participate in and what Jesus is inviting his Apostles to participate in is the missionary activity of the Church. And it’s the same missionary activity that we are being called to participate in. The invitation that Jesus offers to His apostles is the same invitation that He gives to us. We, too, are being called to go out and to proclaim the Good News, sharing the Gospel and bringing others to an encounter with the Lord.
One of the hallmarks of Christian discipleship has always been and will always be sharing about our faith with others. Our faith is never something that we should keep solely to ourselves. Being a disciple always involves outreach, it always involves evangelization, sharing how the Lord has touched our hearts and our minds. It involves going out and telling others about how Jesus has changed our lives, how He has healed our moments of suffering, accompanied us through our moments of pain, and led us to moments of conversion. It involves giving testimony to the power of His grace at work within us.
The responsibility that we have as Christians to go out and evangelize is now more important than ever before. There is an urgency to that mission. If you haven’t noticed, the world is a bit all over the place at the moment. It’s pretty clear to all of us who are people of faith, that so many in our world are simply lost. There is so much confusion, so much division, so much anger all around us. When we turn on the television to watch the news or simply log onto social media, we see just how much the Evil One is trying to lead so many of our brothers and sisters further and further away from God and further and further away from each other. And the Devil is succeeding at that.
People are not respecting one another – and maybe some of us even fall into that. We, as a society, are failing to recognize and accept the inherent dignity present within every human person. We are failing to see others as brothers and sisters and are instead treating others as enemies. That’s even happening within our Church. In many ways, society has told us that it is acceptable to hate one another.
In the last year, unprecedented racial tensions have taken over our country. Some people have been despised simply because of their choice of career. Others because of the political party which they identify with. People of faith are being discriminated against on countless levels. Those who have refused to get vaccinated have been vilified. Some who wear masks are being told that their ignorant. What are we doing to each other? This is not how we are called to live. The Devil is having a heyday and so many of us are playing right into his hands.
The world needs to hear a different message. The world needs to hear a message of truth, a message of love. The world needs a reminder that the Evil One has already lost; that we have a Savior who has already won the war. The world needs to be called to repentance, to conversion, and to belief in the Gospel. And we are the ones that have to do that. The Lord needs us to be the apostles of our modern world. He wants to send us out to proclaim to the world a message that is contrary to what society is telling us. He needs us to be the voices of truth that go out and offer His message of salvation.
Today, the Lord is inviting us to renew our commitment to discipleship. Each of us has had some kind of encounter with the Lord – if we didn’t, we wouldn’t be here. The Lord has touched each of our lives in different ways. He has shown us His love and mercy. And because of that, we now have to go out and share it.
Share with someone over dinner how the Lord has worked in your life this week. Invite someone to Mass. If you have a friend who hasn’t been to confession in a while, encourage them to go. Call out an injustice that you see happening in the world. Stand up against abortion, the death penalty, euthanasia, racism. Share a scripture passage on social media. Do something that points others to the truth. Do something that tells the world that Jesus Christ is very much alive and that we are called to live differently.
Each of us has been chosen by God, just like Amos and the apostles. Now it is time for us to get sent. It’s a part of being a disciple of Jesus. A great responsibility has been laid upon us. A great honor has been conferred on us. We are responsible for proclaiming always and everywhere the Gospel of Jesus Christ, bringing God’s word to those around us and leading them to an encounter with His love. How will you respond to that invitation?
 Loyola Press. “Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B” on Sunday Connection. https://www.loyolapress.com/catholic-resources/liturgical-year/sunday-connection/15th-sunday-of-ordinary-time-b-sunday-connection/
 Loyola Press. “Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B.”