Liturgy of the Sunday

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Fifteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time


First Reading

Amos 7,12-15

To Amos himself Amaziah said, 'Go away, seer, take yourself off to Judah, earn your living there, and there you can prophesy! But never again will you prophesy at Bethel, for this is a royal sanctuary, a national temple.' 'I am not a prophet,' Amos replied to Amaziah, 'nor do I belong to a prophetic brotherhood. I am merely a herdsman and dresser of sycamore-figs. But Yahweh took me as I followed the flock, and Yahweh said to me, "Go and prophesy to my people Israel."

Psalmody

Psalm 84

Antiphon

Return to us, O Lord, our salvation.

O Lord, you once favoured your land
and revived the fortunes of Jacob,

you forgave the guilt of your people
and covered all their sins.

You averted all your rage,
you calmed the heat of your anger.

Revive us now, God, our helper!
Put an end to your grievance against us.

Will you be angry with us for ever,
will your anger never cease?

Will you not restore again our life
that your people may rejoice in you?

Let us see, O Lord, your mercy
and give us your savings help.

I will hear what the Lord God has to say,
a voice that speaks of peace,

peace for his people and his friends
and those who turn to him in their hearts.

His help is near for those who fear him
and his glory will dwell in our land.

Mercy and faithfulness have met;
justice and peace have embraced.

Faithfulness shall spring from the earth
and justice look down from heaven.

The Lord will make us prosper
and our earth shall yield its fruit.

Justice shall march before him
and peace shall follow his steps.

Second Reading

Ephesians 1,3-14

Blessed be God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all the spiritual blessings of heaven in Christ. Thus he chose us in Christ before the world was made to be holy and faultless before him in love, marking us out for himself beforehand, to be adopted sons, through Jesus Christ. Such was his purpose and good pleasure, to the praise of the glory of his grace, his free gift to us in the Beloved, in whom, through his blood, we gain our freedom, the forgiveness of our sins. Such is the richness of the grace which he has showered on us in all wisdom and insight. He has let us know the mystery of his purpose, according to his good pleasure which he determined beforehand in Christ, for him to act upon when the times had run their course: that he would bring everything together under Christ, as head, everything in the heavens and everything on earth. And it is in him that we have received our heritage, marked out beforehand as we were, under the plan of the One who guides all things as he decides by his own will, chosen to be, for the praise of his glory, the people who would put their hopes in Christ before he came. Now you too, in him, have heard the message of the truth and the gospel of your salvation, and having put your trust in it you have been stamped with the seal of the Holy Spirit of the Promise, who is the pledge of our inheritance, for the freedom of the people whom God has taken for his own, for the praise of his glory.

Reading of the Gospel

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Yesterday I was buried with Christ,
today I rise with you who are risen.
With you I was crucified;
remember me, Lord, in your kingdom.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Mark 6,7-13

Then he summoned the Twelve and began to send them out in pairs, giving them authority over unclean spirits. And he instructed them to take nothing for the journey except a staff -- no bread, no haversack, no coppers for their purses. They were to wear sandals but, he added, 'Don't take a spare tunic.' And he said to them, 'If you enter a house anywhere, stay there until you leave the district. And if any place does not welcome you and people refuse to listen to you, as you walk away shake off the dust under your feet as evidence to them.' So they set off to proclaim repentance; and they cast out many devils, and anointed many sick people with oil and cured them.

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Yesterday I was buried with Christ,
today I rise with you who are risen.
With you I was crucified;
remember me, Lord, in your kingdom.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Homily

"Jesus called the twelve and began to send them out two by two." This is how the Gospel passage we hear this Sunday begins. Jesus calls them and sends them out. We could say that these two verbs (call and send) capture the identity both of the disciples and of every Christian community. With extreme clarity the Second Vatican Council calls this the mission entrusted to the entire Church: "The pilgrim Church is missionary by nature...and it is incumbent upon every disciple of Christ to spread the faith as much as it is possible." A Christian, therefore, is above all else someone called and summoned by God.
The entire tradition of the Old Testament, from Abraham on, puts God at the origin of every call. The story of Amos is emblematic. It was not he who chose. Nor was it he who even set out. The Lord took him ("The Lord took me from following the flock") and flung him into a bitter confrontation with the injustices of the political power. He even had to go up against the cold considerations of the "chaplain of the court," Amaziah the priest, who exhorted him, as often happens, to be selfishly prudent. Amos retorts that at the root of his words there is absolutely no trace of a personal decision linked to this mission. It is God who has forced him to take on this prophetic mission: "I am no prophet, nor a prophet's son; but I am a herdsman, and a dresser of sycamore trees, and the Lord took me from following the flock, and the Lord said to me, "Go, prophesy to my people Israel"(Am 7:14-15).
The call is always to perform the service of communicating, by one's words and life, the Gospel of Jesus to the farthest reaches of the earth. Herein lies the opportunity for each person to find his or her saintliness. All of the Lord's summonses are an invitation to accept the mission that always pushes us to go beyond ourselves, beyond the confines that we draw around ourselves. It is after all natural for us to set our own limits often clearly and definitively between us and others, between what we think possible or not possible to do. This instinct to set limits comes from fear: we want to be tranquil and certain, avoiding the unknown and that which is unfamiliar to us.
For Jesus, it is not like this. He left heaven behind to come amongst us, not because we were righteous, but because we were sinners. For this reason, Jesus cannot accept either limits or particularities. Jesus' horizon is the entire world. No one is extraneous to his concerns. For the Lord, everyone is to be loved and saved. Jesus invites his disciples, supplied only with the staff of the Gospel and the sandals of mercy, to go along the ways of this world preaching the conversion of the heart and healing the sick and infirm. It does not require any particular weapons to enter into the homes of people, that is, into their more private and delicate places in the heart. The disciples, defenceless and poor, must go two by two so that their preaching may be an example of mutual love. Besides, Jesus had said: "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." Rich only in God's mercy and the Gospel, Christians will be able to knock down the walls of division and liberate the hearts of men and women from the limits and burdens that oppress them. In the face of such a task, both attractive and terrifying, we cannot turn back. And along with the holy disciples we say: "Here am I; send me!" (Is 6:8).