July 12, 2015 — Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Last week, we heard how Jesus was rejected in His native Nazareth. Our Gospel reading for this week from St. Mark occurs immediately after that incident. Rather than being dejected and becoming withdrawn, the Lord renewed His efforts to tell the Good News and to minister to people everywhere.
In fact, as part of this renewed effort, He took the next step of using His Apostles to expand His Ministry and Build the Kingdom. “Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two…So they went off and preached repentance.” This same summons applies to us today.
Everyone is called to evangelization. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (#849) includes a mandate that we all be missionaries. “Having been divinely sent to the nations that she might be ‘the universal sacrament of salvation,’ the Church, in obedience to the command of her founder and because it is demanded by her own essential universality, strives to preach the Gospel to all men.” Our readings on this Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time examine this universal call to evangelization.
The First Reading, from the Book of Amos, gives us insights into the prophet Amos. Amos was a shepherd and a farmer. He is an excellent example of the idea that all are called to evangelization. God can speak through each of us, in spite of our place in the world. Just as Amos was a farmer prophet, and Jesus included simple fishermen among His closest followers, we are expected to evangelize in our present situation, representing ourselves as Catholics and Christians.
It is difficult to think of evangelization without thinking of St. Paul. Everything he did and everything he represented was a form of evangelization. The key to his success was the fact that he “preached not to please men, but to please God who tests our hearts.” (1 Thessalonians 2: 4) Today’s Second Reading from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians reminds those to whom the letter was written, which includes us, that we are blessed “with every spiritual blessing in the heavens.” It is of great consequence that we understand that Paul speaks of “spiritual” blessings, not “material” blessings. Sometimes when we try to define stewardship in our lives we look mainly at our temporal or material blessings. Paul’s point to us is that our spiritual blessings are even greater, and just as Paul translated those blessings into a lifetime of evangelization, we are expected to do the same.
In preaching redemption, as the Apostles did reflected by our Gospel reading from St. Mark, they were evangelizing, preaching the Good News. Much has been written about evangelization in recent years. Pope Paul VI in particular spoke and wrote extensively on it. In his document Evangelii Nuntiandi he stated, “Evangelization means to bring the Good News to all the straits of humanity, and through its influence transforming humanity from within and making it new.”
We need to follow Christ’s admonition to proclaim the Good News. That does not mean we need to preach on street corners, but it does mean we need to recognize that we more or less proclaim the Good News in every conversation we have with every person with whom we come in contact. If we invite Jesus into our lives, we must be willing to let others know how that invitation, the inclusion of the Lord in what we do, has had a positive effect on us.