26 July, 2012

Homily for the Sixth Sunday after Trinity (B) 2012

Amos 7:12-15
 
The Lord said to me, “Go, prophesy to my people Israel.” (Amos 7:15)
Last week I talked about the concepts of vocation and collegiality, and about their possible impact in our lives. I said that we are all called to work together for the kingdom of God from within our Church family.
 
Today, I would like to continue by exploring with you the response to God’s call found in the prophet Amos. Today first reading finds its way into our lectionary because of the parallel between John the Baptist’s denouncement of King Herod’s conduct and Amos’ prophecy against king Jeroboam of Israel. However, Amos has a lot to tell us in these few lines of narrative about our common vocation.
At that time of our reading, the divinely chosen nation which found a common ancestry in the patriarch Isaac, and had enjoyed unity under King David, was divided in two distinct kingdoms; Judah, with Jerusalem, to the south, and Israel in the north. Israel had the upper hand over Judah, and their divisions had often degenerated into rivalry and sometimes war, to the point that the northern kingdom had set up a temple at Bethel with its own customs and liturgies to rival the divinely appointed place of worship at Jerusalem. 
In the midst of all this, Amos is called by God to prophesy concerning the destruction of the kingdom of Israel, and of the temple at Bethel as a punishment for their unjust dealings and unlawful worship. Amos was neither a prophet by trade nor by birth. He wasn’t a professional who earned his keep by uttering oracles. Amos was a herdsman, a livestock dealer from Judah, who probably travelled to the temple of Bethel to present compulsory tithes from the Kingdom of Judah. In our reading he seems to say that he didn’t even want the job, but that God called him nonetheless. 

Indeed, God didn’t stop there, for He said to Amos “Go, prophesy to my people Israel” (Amos 7:15); not to the people of Judah, in his own land, but to the people of the neighbouring kingdom of Israel; a people who had rejected the common ancestry with Judah, and had set themselves up as the only chosen people. "Go", said the Lord, "leave the security of your profession, of your familiar spaces; go completely outside your comfort zone and speak to my people. I am sending you, an outsider, to tell them that they are in the wrong, and because of this disaster is about to strike them."
 
So what can we say today about vocation? 
First, we can say that sometimes a call from God seems initially to work against our grain, as it were. It is not always so, but sometimes God does call us away from our employments, away from what we would like to do, only to make us realise that we can find true fulfilment only in serving him.

Secondly, vocation calls us out of our comfort zone. We will eventually get to grips with it, but initially we may be confronted by fear and doubt in our own talents. Think about the vocations of Abraham, of the prophet Jonah, of Mary, of the first disciples, of the Apostle Peter. 

Thirdly, a call from God orients us towards true worship. In the light of New Testament we are called to join the worship of the whole Church which is the divinely appointed place – or in the words of St Paul, a single structure, which in Jesus Christ is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord (Ephesians 2:21). 

Fourthly, a call from God demands us to work for unity and collegiality reminding the whole Church family of our common ancestry in the faith of Abraham, in the Blood of Christ, and in the waters of Baptism. Therefore, our vocation also demands us to recall to this family all those who have separated themselves from the faith of the Apostles, and have set themselves in rivalry against the Church. 
These are only some aspects of our common vocation. I would like to invite you to take the pew sheet home with you, and to read again this passage slowly, in a few moments of quietness, imagining your own life in Amos’ response to Amaziah.

The Lord said to us all, “Go, prophesy to my people.” (cf. Amos 7:15)

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