Sunday Reflection: 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle B)
(Am 7:12-15 / Eph 1:3-14 / Mk 6:7-13)
I recall praying on my knees, a few months before my priestly ordination, asking God sincerely: "Lord, am I really worthy of this vocation?"
There were so many things filling my mind with interior doubts while outwardly I was busy preparing for the big day. Though I can safely say I'm religious, I didn't come from a religious family. Our family is just a regular Sunday goer. My mother is even Aglipayan, like the rest of my maternal relatives. I wasn't very active in the Church. Unlike other seminarians, I wasn't an altar server. Neither did I aspire to become a priest while I was young. My entrance to the high school seminary was an "accident." Though I may have fared well academically at school, it was clear to me that academics and pastoral aren't of the same color. Priests have to be sociable, but I tend to be distant. Though my IQ may perhaps be somewhere on the higher end of average, am sure my EQ is a few rungs below it. Priests are supposed to be good preachers. I've never been comfortable in front of an audience, much less in front of a big congregation! And I have yet to enumerate here my many sins, both the petty ones and the graver ones! Yes, I have a litany of reasons that make me feel unworthy of the priesthood, but there was one reason that trumps them all:
For some mysterious reasons, God decided to call me inspite of everything.
In the first reading of today, it was very clear to Amos that he wasn't worthy to become a prophet. Hearing Amaziah's words while being shooed away, he must have said to himself interiorly "But this is not what I do, and I'm not here because I wanted to!"Amos was only too well aware that he's far from worthy of being a prophet. He 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.
A humble shepherd and dresser of sycamore suddenly, and for some mysterious reasons, God has called to become a prophet--not to some persons or any small town, but to God's people Israel! A very daunting task, especially for an unprepared shepherd and dresser!
But when God said, "Go!" He did go.
Prophets of God are a mixed type, inclusive of the typical to the most unlikely. Indeed, those who prophecy well tend to be those of the latter type. Somehow shock and surprise coming from the people to whom prophets are sent are a good preparation for the reception of God's saving word.
Despite the multiplicity of backgrounds, there is only one common denominator among all prophets of God: God simply calls them.
In the Gospel of today, Jesus calls and sends his Apostles to go on mission to preach God's kingdom.
Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two
God calls, and he is not a choosy God. The saints that we have in the Church is a testament that God calls people to become his prophets, and he calls from all walks of life. The shepherds. The dressers. And yes, even the great sinners as this is clearly revealed in the list of people he chose to be his Apostles!
St. Peter the Apostle is both cocky and a traitor. Thomas who is more known as a doubter than as an apostle. St. Matthew was a tax-collector! One can add to this list St. Paul of Tarsus who had blood in his hands.
Although St. Augustine may also come to mind as among the greatest sinners who eventually became a great saint, there are still quite a lot, even greater sinners than Augustine!
St. Mary of Egypt was an accomplished prostitute who at age 12 ran away from home in Alexandria. She specialized in corrupting innocent young men. Once she embarked on a ship on a trip to Holy Land. By the time the group reached the destination, she was able to seduce all the male crew and pilgrims!
Mass murders who became evangelizers? St. Olga of Kiev and her own grandson, St. Vladimir were of this type. Looking for the repentant version of Ebenezer Scrooge? Check out St. Thomas Becket!
No one is too far away from God. No one is too unworthy of his call. In fact, all of us are called even before we were born. In the second reading, St. Paul attests:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us in Christ
with every spiritual blessing in the heavens,
as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world,
to be holy and without blemish before him.
In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ,
in accord with the favor of his will,
for the praise of the glory of his grace
that he granted us in the beloved.
In the many ways God calls us, only one thing is required: a willingness to give God a shot at one's life! (and perhaps also, an openness to the surprises that God has up his sleeves!)