Read Amos 7:12-15, Psalm 85:9-14, Ephesians 1:3-14, Mark 6:7-13
“He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He ordered them to take nothing for their journey.” (Mark 6:7-8)
The greatest scandal of the Christian Faith is the apparent contradiction between the simple clarity of the Gospel and the complicated lives of those who profess the Christian Faith. No wonder Mahatma Gandhi is often quoted as saying: “I love your Christ but I don’t like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”
Jesus calls out the twelve to instruct them on the mission. He sends them out two by two (to indicate the importance of COLLABORATION). He tells them to take nothing for the journey (to indicate the importance of DETACHMENT). Today, we shall do a little bit of examination of conscience.
1.Why is it so difficult for ministers to work together?
In Antioch, where people were for the first time addressed as Christians, we were told that “the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul.” (Acts 4:32). Can we say this about the body of Christ today? Are we still Christians?
This lack of collaboration is what plays out in today’s first reading. Amaziah, the priest of Bethel is at loggerheads with Amos, the prophet. The priest says to the prophet: “Go, flee away from here, go to Judah, earn your bread there (as if prophesying is all about earning bread), leave this town for me for this is the King’s sanctuary.”
Do you notice the politics involved in this quarrel between Fr. Amaziah and Prophet Amos? Can we say something different about the Christian body today?
2. How detached are we today?
Jesus said: “take nothing except a staff, no bread, no bag, no money, wear sandals, don’t put on two tunics.” (Mark 6:8-9). From his experience during his temptations, Jesus knew very well that the material riches of this world would remain an ever-present temptation to deviate from the goal of ministry.
In Matthew 6:24, Jesus said: “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”
In today’s second reading, St. Paul clearly describes what should constitute true riches and blessings in the mind of anyone who calls himself the child of God. And these are holiness, blamelessness, redemption, the forgiveness of sin, unity with God, knowledge of the Gospel of salvation, and the seal of the Holy Spirit. St. Paul made no mention of stacks of money, exotic means of transportation, or properties.
3. No Detachment; No Collaboration.
In truth, the lust for material possessions (worldly riches) is the major reason behind the inability of ministers to collaborate with one another. There is mutual suspicion among ministers and fights often break out from time to time because each has got a money bag, too many sandals, and too many tunics.
If we were to seek first God’s Kingdom rather than earthly gains, we would all speak with one voice and recover our true Christian identity like the early Christians.
If we are detached, we would be more focused on building faith, justice and morality rather than building personal mansions and investments.
If we are detached, maybe we would be free to speak the truth and call people to repentance like these twelve apostles did rather than serve the sugar-coated gospel of prosperity.
If we are detached, we can be better positioned to cast out the demons troubling our society such as the demons of corruption, injustice, immorality, falsehood, tribalism, etc.
In conclusion, the church must lead the world by example.
We cannot really speak against corruption until we cease to be beneficiaries of corruption. We cannot win the fight against stealing and looting of public funds until we return to the words of Jesus and practice true poverty of spirit.
We cannot preach a united Nigeria on our pulpits if we as men and women of God cannot see eye to eye. We must kill our pride lest it tears us apart. Jesus said it that a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand. We must stop fighting each other and begin to realize that as ministers of God, we can never be superior to one another. We are nothing but mere instruments before God.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, impart in me the spirit of collaboration and teach me to trust you rather than in earthly riches. Amen.
Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (15th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Bible Study: Amos 7:12-15, Psalm 85:9-14, Ephesians 1:3-14, Mark 6:7-13).