July 11, 2021 — Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
AM 7:12-15; PS 85:9-10, 11-12, 13-14; EPH 1:3-14 OR 1:3-10; MK 6:7-13
Our readings today provide examples of people who trusted in the Lord. It is a reminder for us to live our day-to-day lives in total surrender to His care.
In our First Reading, Amos is told to leave Bethel and flee to the land of Judah. Amos was a prophet that pointed out the errors of what was happening in Bethel to the priest, Amaziah. Amos replies to the hostile comment from Amaziah, saying, “The LORD took me from following the flock, and said to me, Go, prophesy to my people Israel.”
When we live our lives doing the will of God, there will be days that are hard. Just because we are doing what the Lord is asking of us, doesn’t mean every day will be perfect. As a matter of fact, we might be led to rejection or suffering because of what we believe.
The moment we are faced with that conflict, we are called to respond as Amos did — not by turning our back on God, but rather, remaining faithful to Him. God has a plan, even in the darkest moments. We are called to trust in His ways.
Our Gospel recounts when Jesus instructs His twelve apostles to begin their missionary work two by two. He encouraged them to take very little — a walking stick and sandals. He said, “no food, no sack, no money in their belts… not a second tunic.” They did not know where they would stay on their journey.
If you can recall a time you packed for a trip, or even left the house for a day’s travel, you might remember making a list, packing days in advance, or even asking yourself, “Did I forget anything?” Regardless, if you are a diligent planner or a minimalist, we tend to pack what we think is “safe” so we know we will be comfortable.
If we extend this concept of “comfort” into other areas of our lives, we will most likely find a few instances where we ensure life is comfortable. It could be buying extra food at the grocery store just in case, ensuring we have new clothes frequently, going out to eat regularly, making sure we have the most updated technology, or even feeling safe in our bank accounts.
It is not bad to have extra food in the pantry or to buy a new shirt. It also isn’t bad to enjoy a dinner out or to buy a new phone. And it isn’t bad to ensure you have savings. These things can be good and enjoyable when used properly.
But what if we aren’t using them properly? What if we are looking to them for comfort, security or even happiness?
So, imagine if Jesus approached you and said, “Go out and do my work, but you can only bring a walking stick and shoes.” Would you be willing to surrender all the rest? Would you trust that God would provide all that is needed?
A key component of living out our call as Christian stewards is total surrender. It is trusting in God during our best moments and our hardest. It is looking to Him for security, comfort and happiness.
We can be sure that the journey for the apostles was filled with joyful moments and extremely hard trials, similar to the prophet Amos in our First Reading. Yet, because they entrusted themselves completely into the hands of God, they knew it would all work out for their good.
So how do we say “yes” to God like the apostles and Amos? It is easier to say “yes” when we are not attached to what is around us. A simple practice of self-denial and surrender go a long way.
Consider buying exactly what you need at the grocery store, and see how God takes care of you; or taking the money you would spend on a new dress or a meal out and give it to someone in need; or waiting six months before buying the newest technology; or detaching from the security in your bank account by increasing your financial gift to God.
When we make room for God in our lives through practices of self-denial and surrender, we give Him the freedom to shower us with His goodness. And we are more willing to say “yes” to God when He comes knocking on our door when we are not weighted down by what surrounds us. It truly is freeing.
Today, reflect on the ways you personally might be looking for comfort, security and happiness in the things of this world. Tangibly find a way to become independent from that “thing” so that you can become more dependent on God.