15th Sunday in OT Homily
The commissioning of the apostles that we hear in today’s Gospel takes place also in our personal and individual life as Christians. In commissioning the apostles, Jesus gives them -- and us today – a preview of His Church's mission, a preview of our own mission as Christians. No Christian is an island, that is, no Christian is born for himself or herself alone. To be a Christian, a follower of Jesus, is to be, like what St. Ignatius of Loyola would emphasize, “a man for others”.
Like Amos in the First Reading, the apostles were not “professionals,” who earn their bread by prophesying. Amos said: “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’.” Like Amos, the apostles also were simple fishermen (see Acts 14:15) summoned from their ordinary jobs and sent by God to be shepherds of their brothers and sisters.
You don’t have to be a special somebody in the community to be sent to a mission. Even in the ordinariness of what we do every day, God is calling us to do something special for Him. What does God expect from you in your ordinary day to day activities? That is your mission.
The Opening Prayer gives a hint to the answer. It says: “O God, who show the light of truth to those who go astray… give all who… are accounted Christians the grace to reject whatever is contrary to the Name of Christ and to strive after all that does it honor”. We are asking two graces from the Lord in this Mass: (1) to reject whatever is contrary to being Christians; and (2) to strive for what gives honor to the name of Christ.
REJECT WHAT IS CONTRARY TO BEING CHRISTIAN: This is a very effective criterion for our behavior. Then, we examine ourselves: Are my actions contrary to my being a Christian? Is my mentality compatible with the mentality of Christ? Are my words and expressions the words and expressions of the followers of Christ?
When you refuse to forgive the person who offended you, is that not contrary to your being a Christian? When you judge the intention of others, when you are inconsiderate to the defects of others, are you not doing what is contrary to being a Christian? So, we ask the Lord: “Give us light, O God, to see what is contrary to the name of Christ. Then, grant us the grace to reject it.” Here’s a beautiful prayer that you can recite this week: “Lord, keep me away from whatever keeps me away from You”.
STRIVE TO HONOR THE NAME OF CHRIST: This is the positive side. If the other is to reject what dishonors the name of Christ, here, we strive to do what gives it honor. Why emphasize the positive side? Because Christianity does not consists only in prohibitions, as many people think, but in doing positive actions. (Di lang puro bawal ang kristiyanismo, kundi puro pagmamahal).
How do you honor the name of Christ? First, do not be ashamed of it. Do not hide your being a Christian. Then, strive to show it in your thoughts, words and actions. Keep your intentions pure and right. Keep your words clean and mild, not harsh and foul. Keep your conversations prudent, not galawgaw; your jokes clean, not green. When you try to obey authorities, to your parents, you give honor to Christ’s name because He was obedient to His Father.
Our mission is to do what God expects from us. And God’s expectation is that we give honor to the name of Christ – to our being Christians – by rejecting what is contrary to it.
Oftentimes, in trying to do our mission, we will experience resistance and rejection. Amos experienced it also. Jesus warns the apostles that some will not welcome or listen to them. But let us not get discouraged. As Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta once said: “God does not expect us to be perfect; just to be faithful”.
If we remain faithful to our mission as Christians, as Catholics, despite opposition and rejection, we will triumph in the end because, as St. Josemaria once said: “We are on the side of Jesus. And He does not lose battles”.
In the Second Reading, St. Paul reminds us that “God, the Father… 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 blameless before Him”.
Indeed, in this Mass, we ask God to bless us in Christ, “with every spiritual blessing”. Through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, may we strive to reject everything that dishonors the name of Christ and to do what honors it, through our daily ordinary tasks, growing little by little in our faithfulness each day. Amen.