IN THIS Sunday’s First Reading (Amos 7:12-15), God sends Amos as his prophet to Israel. Although originally a shepherd and dresser of sycamores, Amos was handpicked by God to bring in the message of repentance to his people.
In the Second Reading (Ephesians 1:3-14), St. Paul tells us that in Christ, God has forgiven us our transgressions, blessed us with every spiritual blessing, adopted us to himself, and sealed us with the Holy Spirit. And in the Gospel (Mark 6:7-13), Jesus summons his twelve apostles to preach the good news of repentance and salvation, drive out demons, and cure the sick.
What reflections can be drawn out of these?
First, is the realization that God’s workers in His vineyard come with the call of God. Amos did not send himself; he was sent by God. So did the apostles, and in our time, their successors and all believers. Those who are sent work only by the authority of the One who sent them. “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, says the Lord of hosts (Zechariah 4:6).”
Second, that the ministry of those doing the work of God must view the salvation of souls as of primary importance. True, God cares for the whole person – body and soul. After all He said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly (John 10:10).”
But the body is not meant to be pampered at the expense of the soul. Jesus said, “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul (Mark 8:36)?” In teaching about adultery, He also said, “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell (Matthew 5:29-30).”
In carrying out Jesus’ orders, the apostles preached the Word, that there may be repentance and salvation among the hearers. They also drove out demons and cured the sick, not for empty reasons but to reveal the goodness of God, affirm and confirm the Word, and build up the faith, both believers and non-believers.
In our time, then, may we listen to God’s voice and respond to His promptings. In whatever ways we are called to serve Him and our fellow human beings, may we look at salvation as the core blessing that God offers others through us, complemented by deliverance, good health, material prosperity and other blessings that can come only from a loving God, but all pointing up to heaven as the ultimate goal.