July 15, 2018 — Fifteenth Sunday In Ordinary Time
“In God We Trust” has been the official motto of the United States for more than 50 years — declared so by unanimous votes in both the House of Representatives and the Senate in 1956, and signed into law by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Most of us are aware that this declaration and motto have been challenged in courts through the years, but it is sending a message to us as Catholics that is similar to the messages in the Holy Scripture on this Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Our First Reading is drawn from the Book of Amos. Amos is one of the Minor Prophets — however, he is said to have had a great influence on Isaiah, with whom we are more familiar perhaps. Like the other prophets, as well as each of us, God called Amos, a sheepherder and farmer. Any response to the call of God requires a combination of courage and trust in the Lord.
In today’s reading, Amos says, “I was no prophet, nor have I belonged to a company of prophets; I was a shepherd and a dresser of sycamores. The Lord took me from following the flock, and said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel’.”
Although we may not be called to prophesy, we are indeed called by God, and one of the driving forces in our lives should be to discover, pursue and follow that calling.
Yet, just as it did for Amos and many others, it will require our total trust in God.
After his dramatic conversion, St. Paul submitted his life to serving God. He trusted the Lord implicitly. Paul faced insults, rejection, and trial after trial, but he remained content with his life. Why? Because he surrendered his will to the Lord. Paul learned that God always has our best interests at heart. Paul would have each of us us ask “Who is in charge of your life?”
In effect, that is what he maintains in our Second Reading from Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians. St. Paul may not say it directly, but that trust is implied when he says in this reading, “In him you also, who have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and have believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit.”
Paul is telling us that our trust is based on our view of life in general. He makes it clear that God’s guidance and help works in our lives, but we must cooperate with that by hearing the “word of truth,” accepting it, and believing in it. Paul consistently tells us that his view, and ours as well, is of eternity, not of the things of this earth.
Jesus confirmed to His Apostles how trust in God was paramount with His instructions to them in today’s Gospel from St. Mark. Jesus understood full well that if His apostles did not trust God and did not convey that trust to others, they could not effectively tell others to trust in God. That is why He told them to travel lightly, because that assured that they had to trust in God for everything.
Our belief as Catholics is that Jesus’ Apostles did exactly what He told them to do. At the same time, though, this can be quite the challenge for even the most committed and active Catholic. We can hear Jesus’ Word over and over, but until we actually follow it and live it out through stewardship, we are not truly fulfilling our calling. That is why we say that stewardship requires action on our part. We can not only talk the talk. We must also walk the walk. We need to show others that we understand it and embrace it by how we live our lives. As stewards, we must vividly demonstrate that we completely and wholeheartedly trust in God.