He Sent Them Out!

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Amaziah was the priest of Bethel, which was a national sanctuary.  Not only was he the priest but the chief priest and he was from the official family of the sanctuary.  In addition he was the public relations guy for the king.  And the kingdom was very affluent and their liturgies were more about show than worshipping God.  Amaziah when he heard the message of Amos expelled him from the northern kingdom of Israel and sent him home.

Amos was a prophet who lived around 750 BC and not a professional speaker or prophet nor did he come from a family of prophets.  He was a sheep farmer and a dresser of sycamores figs (Amos 7: 12-15).  He had to prick these sycamore figs in order for them to get large enough to eat and to ripen.  This work prepared him well for his ministry in the north.

He was to warn Israel to return to their covenant relationship with Yahweh, and to lead a good life.  He rails against the false spirituality that marked the worship in the northern kingdom.  His zeal made him unpopular and he sealed his fate when he said that Bethel itself would be overthrown, and his people would be sent to exile.  His language was direct, rough, and rich in country images.  The leaders rose up against him and they banished him from the sanctuary.  They sent him back to Judah, the southern kingdom, to do his babbling down there.  He reluctantly leaves and was faithful to the command to prophesy to his people.

Could God have picked a more disinterested person to send to Bethel?  Was there someone more opposite Amaziah than Amos?  Often God chooses the worst one to do his will.  He does this to show that the message is from God.  This is what gives it power, not the messenger.

Amos tells Amaziah that the only reason that he is there is because he was sent by God.  It was a divine command.  He is not there to make money or to make a name for himself or to climb the professional ladder.   There is only one reason why he is there: God sent him.

The gospel (Mark 6: 7-13) also shows that God chooses unusual people to speak on his behalf: a tax collector, bunch of fishermen, a betrayer, another who denies him.  Yet these are the ones that God calls.  The message has a power of its own.

You and I may think the same way: isn’t there someone else, who can speak to my family, someone who they world appreciate more than me?  I am not the right person for this.

In the Matthew’s gospel he says the apostles are sent out and that they have the power to cast out demons.  Those two verbs: to send and to cast out are the same verb in Greek.  It seems that Matthew wants to show us that the power to cast out demons comes from the authority of the one who sends.  It comes from Christ, not from them.

Also they were sent with no food, no bag and no money.  Christ disarms them, and leaves them alone.  They become very weak in the eyes of others.  They are very vulnerable.   You also when you speak honestly about your life and what God is doing for you is very disarming.  It puts people at ease.  They see someone who has similar problems, and they feel accompanied.

He also says don’t take two tunics.  This means be simple.  Don’t take two coats or use two faces, use only one.  Present the real you.  It is more compelling.

The apostles are being sent to build up the Church, the Kingdom of God.  You and I are sent to do the same.  God is the one sending you. Do not be afraid; he will give you the words to say.