|Original photo from Pixabay.|
This Sunday, the second reading will be from Ephesians 1:3-14. I also suggest reading the other readings, but for the first reading, begin at 7:10.
In this section from the beginning of the letter to the Ephesians, Paul gives thanks for the blessings received from God in the community of the Ephesians, and in the Christian community at large.
God made us to be holy before him, to be adopted by him, he’s give us forgiveness of our sins, and given us rich graces by which we are able to do his will in an unfriendly world, he’s revealed to us his will, and given us knowledge of his plan for us.
Christians are unique - we are a chosen people for God, sealed with the Holy Spirit. And if you look to the other readings, the world does not tend to take a friendly view of those chosen by God for anything.
If you read a little extra, it becomes clear that in the first reading, Amaziah makes a false accusation against the prophet Amos, because he has angered people in high places.
As a prophet, Amos also received a unique spiritual blessing in that the Lord made Amos able to interpret His divine will for the people. Similarly, by revelation, Christians have been blessed with a similar understanding of God that other peoples have not received.
Jesus prepared the twelve with instructions for what to do when they were rejected, because he knew that rejection by the world was coming.
Jesus told the twelve to shake the dust from their feet if they were not welcomed or listened to. These are clear instructions to one who travels to preach, but not as clear to someone like me, whose day-to-day evangelization occurs person-to-person.
Do I really want to shake the dust from my feet with someone I know personally, but who isn’t a Christian yet? (but who I hope will become one) Do I think God wants me to?
No, I don’t. I really, really don’t, and I don’t think that’s what we’re meant to understand. If that were the case, the Jesuit missionaries who came to North America - who were usually martyred - would not have been so readily followed by others.
For those of us who are not situated to travel and preach, we do much better to look at someone who God commissioned and sent to a particular place - Amos is like that. He was told in no uncertain terms to “get lost”, but he followed the God’s instructions, and stayed among the people God sent him to. Amos continued to preach to Israel, rather than move on to a more receptive audience, because God placed him to be a prophet to a particular people at a particular time. God, make me like that!
To go back and speak of you to those who have injured us is a hard thing to do. And it is likewise difficult to do them a good turn. And yet this is precisely what we must do, if we are to participate in the spreading of the Gospel, a task which is ours by virtue of our Baptism.
Help us to look with new eyes at that person in our lives who has rejected you and for whom that is a painful thing for us. Let it be, not that the pain is taken away, but that each of us might continue to be a clear, consistent witness of your love to that person. Let it be that they might come to repent of their rejection of you, and come to love you all the more than they ever thought possible.