Sunday: Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Date: July 12, 2015 Year: B The readings: [Amos 7:12-15; Ephes. 1:3-14; Mk. 6:7-13] The message: Destined for adoption as children of God. Prepared by: Catholic Doors Ministry Total words: 2054
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My brothers and sisters in Christ, welcome to today's celebration of the Holy Mass, the visible reflection of the invisible banquet to which we will participate in the Divine presence of our Lord Jesus through the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.
Today's readings from the Holy Gospel echo that we have all been called by the Lord, destined for adoption to become children of God.
Originally, when preparing my homily, I had planned on asking two questions. The first question was, how many of you have been called by the Lord Jesus? The second one was, how many of you have answered your calling?
The reason that I decided not to ask these questions is because I thought some of you might associate the word "calling" with a religious vocation. That would have implied that those who are not called to the religious life have not been called by God. But this is not the case! We are all called by the grace of God, each according to our commission. Yes, it is true that some are called to the religious life. But others are called to the married life. And others yet are called to remain single. In each of these different callings, we are called to the same spiritual vocation, to worship God in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship Him. [Jn. 4:23]
Each has a calling according to the Divine Will of God. Each and everyone of us have been commissioned through Jesus Christ to lead a life worthy of adoption to become children of God.
During today's First Reading from the Book of Amos that is found in the Old Testament, we heard that the Lord told Amos, "Go, prophesy to my people Israel." As you heard from this reading and previous biblical readings, in those days, "in many and various ways God spoke of old to our father by the prophets." (C.C.C. # 65) Each prophet received a distinct commission according to his calling.
"But in these days," it is different! "God has spoken to us through His Son Jesus Christ, God made man." (C.C.C. # 65) As such, "no new public revelation is to be expected before the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ." (C.C.C. # 66) All what God the Father had to say to us was said through Jesus Christ. We do not have to wait days, months or years for God to appear to each and everyone of us.
By the grace of God the Father and the power of the Holy Spirit, through our faith in Jesus Christ and the Sacrament of Baptism, we have been called to become children of God. Through the Sacrament of Confirmation, we have been equipped with spiritual "gifts of the Holy Spirit according to the grace that has been given to us." [Rom. 12:6] and sent forth by our Bishop as shining lights in the world [Mt. 5:16] "to spread and defend the faith by word and action as true witnesses of Christ, to confess the name of Christ boldly, and never to be ashamed of the Cross." (C.C.C. # 1303)
Our personal calling does not demand us to push ourselves upon others. Certainly not! We are called to be disposed in Christian love to share the Word of God with those who are open to Divine grace. After all, everyone has a free will to accept or to reject the gospel of their salvation. As we heard from the First Reading, the Word of God through Amos was not welcomed. Amos was told to go somewhere else to prophesy.
During today's Gospel, we heard Jesus say, "If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them." Note what Jesus said. He did not say that we should persecute those who reject His Word. He said to shake the dust off our feet. Amen. That is it!
Having been sent by the apostolic Church to spread and defend the faith before our family, our friends and our co-workers, we can expect that our christian obligation will not be easy. Some will reject us because we represent Jesus on earth. But we should not feel so bad about it because we are in good company. We will be counted among those who have been rejected, our Lord Jesus, St. Paul, St. Stephen and all the martyrs of the Holy Catholic Church. We will be counted among our brothers and sisters in Christ who today are sharing the same hardship in the hope of the glory to come.
When our efforts to spread and defend the faith to the people are rejected, we should always remember the Words of the Lord to Moses, "Listen to the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being King over them." [1 Sam. 8:7]
Today's Second Reading from the Letters to the Ephesians teaches us that we were chosen by God before creation. God did not choose us when we committed ourselves at our Baptism. Nor when we were confirmed, attended to our first confession, or when we received our First Communion. He chose each and everyone of us to be saved through the Blood of Christ before creation! Stop and think about that! [Pause]
Having destined us for adoption as His children through Jesus Christ, the Heavenly Father chose each and everyone of us to be holy and blameless before Him in love. And all of this is freely given [Rom. 5:15] to us to manifest the praise of His glorious grace.
In His Divine wisdom and insight, God determined that when the fullness of time would come, He would make known to us the mystery of His Will that He set forth through Christ, in Heaven and on earth. The grace of God was not only limited to Heaven or to the earth, but to both. Through Christ, "being born in human likeness, being found in human form [Col. 2:7] on earth, the Holy Catholic and apostolic Church was instituted to reveal the holy Sacraments that lead to salvation and eternal life in Heaven. Through Christ in Heaven, the "firstfruit" [Rom. 8:23, 11:16; 1 Cor. 15:20] of many to follow, the Kingdom of God was eternally instituted. And the Kingdom of God is not limited to Heaven; it is here on earth today for us to enter its doors through the Sacrament of Baptism.
That is our inheritance that comes through Christ, through who we were destined according to the Will of God to be called the children of God. Our hope is in Christ so we may live for the praise of His glory.
My brothers and sisters, when we first heard the "word of truth," [Jas. 1:18] the gospel of our salvation and we believed in Jesus, we were marked by the seal of the promised Holy Spirit. At that moment was fulfilled in each and everyone of us the promises of God that are found in the Old Testament, that He would give us a new heart and spirit. [Ezek. 11:19-20; 18:31] Not only did God promise to give each and everyone of us those gifts before we were born, but He also promised to place His Holy Spirit within each and everyone of us to help us remain good by obeying His Holy ways. [Ezek. 36:26-7] Blessed be our God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. [Ephes. 1:3]
So powerful is the Word of God that "indeed, it is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit..." [Heb. 4:12] When the grace of God touched each and everyone of us, we were drawn to Him. To transform us as new creations that are holy and blameless before Him, our loving God gives us a new heart during the Sacrament of Baptism. At that moment, through the Word of God that was spoken, our old nature died because it had inherited the sin of Adam. At that moment, "we died," [Rom. 6:5] "were buried" [Rom. 6:4] in water and raised with Christ as new creations in fulfillment of the promise of God the Father. [Ezek. 11:19-20; 18:31]
Listen to the final words that were read in today's Second Reading. "This is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God's own people, in the praise of His glory." [Ephes. 1:14] What I have just finished explaining to you was fulfilled through each and everyone of us during the Sacrament of Baptism. At that moment, we were made righteous in the eyes of God through our new creation that was given to us as a gift of Divine love. Just as Adam and Eve enjoyed the beatific vision of God in the Garden of Eden, we have received the promise of an equal blessing, the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God's own people. Through the Sacrament of Baptism, we received a second chance!
Now that we have been made righteous by the grace of God, a gift freely given to us by His infinite grace, we have to maintain our righteousness through our living faith in Christ. When we sin, we have to make use of the Catholic Church Sacrament of Confession that reinstates our righteousness before God. Having been made righteous again, we have to partake in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, the Living Bread that seals our salvation.
How do we live our faith in Christ? By partaking in the Sacraments and by answering the Lord's call to go forth to spread and defend the faith by announcing the good news that the promises of the Old Testament are being fulfilled through the Sacraments of the Holy Catholic Church. Salvation and eternal life in the Kingdom of God is within the reach of all those who will fix their eyes on our Lord Jesus Christ who is in the glory of God, the fullness of the Holy Trinity dwelling bodily. [Col 1:19, 2:9]
My brothers and sisters, we all have a calling to answer. As a priest, I am called to administer the Church Sacraments, to preach the Word, to perform exorcisms, to anoint the sick with holy oils and all what my ministry requires of me as a servant of the Lord.
Those of you who have been called to the religious life as a brother or a sister, your calling is different. And so it is different for those who have been called to the Sacrament of Marriage and those who have been called to remain single. While our callings differ greatly in the visible world, the spiritual calling that we must answer in the invisible world is identical to all of us. As St. Paul states at the beginning of the Letter to the Romans, it is through our human spirit that we serve God by announcing the gospel of His Son. [Rom. 1:9]
We have all received a new heart and spirit, over and above the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, so we may be enslaved to Jesus Christ in obedience, servitude and humility. Through our new creation, we are destined for adoption as children of God. But such is not fulfilled until we have persevered in our living faith until our LAST BREATH.
My brothers and sisters, let us reflect upon these words this week. Let us reflect on how awesome it is that God destined us to saved before we were born. Let us reflect on the fact that God made promises to us thousands of years ago and He is fulfilling those promises through the Sacraments of the Holy Catholic Church. Let us reflect on the fact that God had each and everyone of us on His mind, knowing in advance that He would be giving us the gifts of our inheritance to come for the glory of Jesus Christ. We are destined for adoption as children of God!
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[The readings were taken from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible (C) 1989 Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Church of Christ in the United States of America.]
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"Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, said to Amos, 'O seer, go, flee away to the land of Judah, earn your bread there, and prophesy there; but never again prophesy at Bethel, for it is the king's sanctuary, and it is a temple of the kingdom.'
Then Amos answered Amaziah, 'I am no prophet, nor a prophet's son; but I am a herdsman, and a dresser of sycamore trees, and the Lord took me from following the flock, and the Lord said to me, 'Go, prophesy to my people Israel.'" [Amos 7:12-5]
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"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, just as he chose us in Christ to be holy and blameless before him in love.
He destined us for adoption to sonship as his own through Jesus Christ, according to the good please of God's will, this is for the praise of his glorious grace that God freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.
In Christ, we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he lavished on us.
With all wisdom and insight God has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in Christ, things in heaven and things on earth.
In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of God who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory.
In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit." [Eph. 1:3-14]
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"Jesus called the twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics.
Jesus said to them, 'Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.'
So the twelve went out and proclaimed that all should repent. They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them." [Mk. 6:7-13]
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