The Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 15, 2018
Fr. José Maria Alvim Cortes, F.S.C.B.

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In the name of the Father, of the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Today’s readings help us understand the Church and the Christian community it is based upon.

At the time of the prophet Amos, there were many professional prophets, who formed companies.  Prophecy was their livelihood and career.

Amos says that he was not a professional prophet. His job was to look after livestock. He was a herdsman, not a religious professional, who had never even thought of becoming a prophet. However, one day God called him and sent him to prophesy, to announce his Word to a people who were forgetting their covenant with him.

To Amos, it was very clear that he had been called and sent. He was acting responding to God’s call, not trying to accomplish a personal project.

In the same way, the Twelve were called by Jesus. They left their previous lives to follow the Master. Jesus called them to be his disciples and then sent them out into the world.

The origin of the Church is in God. The Church is not a human association. We are together because we were called to be together. It is God’s call that creates the Christian community. Saint Paul says that we were chosen: “He chose us in him, before the foundation of the world” (Eph 1:4).

As the Church does not originate in itself, it is also not an end in itself. The Church exists for the world. Its end is its mission. The Church exists in order to prophesy in the world. What does this mean? We find the answer in the Gospel: “So they [the apostles] went off and preached repentance. The Twelve drove out many demons, and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them” (Mk 6:12‒13). The Church’s mission consists of three things: to invite us to conversion, to deliver us from evil and to heal our wounded humanity.

When the Church forgets that it is called by God and has a mission in the world, it betrays its very nature.

Amos upset the king of Israel and the entire establishment. He was told to leave Bethel and stop prophesying: “Off with you, visionary, flee to the land of Judah! […] never again prophesy in Bethel” (Am 7:12–13).

A church that is not aware of God’s call and does not accomplish its mission is tolerated by the world. However, a church that is aware of its origin and complies with its mission challenges the dominant mentality and the powers that be.

We can see examples of this in attacks on religious freedom. The prophet Amos was not allowed to prophesy in Bethel. Nowadays, the Church is being increasingly prevented from accomplishing its mission in the public square.

Let us ask Our Lady to obtain for us the grace of being aware of God’s call and performing the mission entrusted to us.  Amen.

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