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July 11, 2021: Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Amos 7: 7-15

Psalm 85: 7-13


Ephesians 1: 7-14

Mark 6: 7-13

In the gospel today, Jesus sends out the twelve apostles. First, He called the twelve. Twelve signifies the twelve tribes of Israel. We, the Church, as represented by the apostles, are the new Israel. Church, meaning Ekklesia, are the called out; apostle means sent. God calls us, His church, and He sends us out.

The two favorite words of Jesus are: come and go. Many people respond to His invitation to come and it is good because when we come to the presence of the Lord, there is fullness of joy. Sometimes, we feel too comfortable that we don’t want to leave. We don’t want to be sent out, but God sends us out from His presence into the world so that through us, as His instruments, we can also call out others so that they can experience and taste and see the goodness of the Lord as have. We are instruments to reconcile the world to God.

If we only respond to the word “come” and we stay in the presence of God, then, we don’t really get what He wants to happen. The reason He calls us is not only to taste and see His goodness, but also to share it. We are blessed with the joy of His presence in order to share this blessing. If we just hear the word “go” without coming to Him, then, we are lost. We don’t have a direction because this comes from Him and the power and the anointing come from being with Him.

Our Church’s mission is to come to God and to know Him. We know Him first; we come to Him first; and then, we make Him known as we are sent out.

In Mark 3:14, Jesus called His apostles and He appointed the twelve, whom He also named apostles – first to be with Him (to know Him first) and then, to send them out to proclaim the message of His Kingdom. He sent them out in pairs because no man is an island. No man stands alone. The Church is a community -never a one-man show depending on one person. We are individuals but we are members of one Body. We are committed to one another likened to the Trinity. The Trinity is a community, not one Person but three Persons. They are not autonomous individuals. Because we were made in this likeness, then each member of the Body does its part, and gives its share for the building- up of the whole. We cannot divorce ourselves from the whole as God made us one. If we are individualistic, then, we are going against the design and the will of God.

Jesus sends His apostles in pairs and gave them the authority over unclean, evil spirits to fix the brokenness of the people and the world caused by these spirits, hence, a separation from God. His apostles used divinely ordained weapons. We don’t use the weapons of the evil spirit which are hatred, division, and gossip but instead we defeat hate with love; despair with hope; darkness is conquered with light. Jesus tells His apostles, “Whatever house you enter, commit to stay there and work with the community. Do not be choosy. Remember, that you are sent out on a mission. You are not tourists on vacation. You are servants on a mission.”

Jesus told them, “Do not bring anything - no food, bag, money, extra undershirt - but take staff, wear sandals. Live by faith, strip down to the bare minimum and learn to rely on My provision.” The Psalmist says, “As the eyes of the servant looks to the hand of his master, so we look to God for our provision until He is gracious to us.” Why did Jesus asked them to just take the staff and wear sandals? These are symbols of being always on-the-go; to always keep on moving, not to be stagnant.

Do not be choosy about where God sends us. Today, the Church, to some extent, has become a “consumer Church”. People look for a Church that is beneficial for them. Jesus tells us, “Do not be choosy. Wherever I send you, wherever I put you, wherever I assign you, flourish there, work with the people and ask not on how to get the best value for your money.” Find out how we can best work with the people we are assigned to in order to best serve God and His kingdom and fulfill our mission. If we become choosy, we miss the point and we lose our way and we forget why we are sent in the first place. Again, we are not tourists on vacation but servants on a mission. We are not to look for what is best for us, but to think what is best for God and His kingdom because we vowed to serve Him.

Jesus says, “Preach the gospel, the message of the Kingdom: God loves us; God has forgiven us; God is not angry at us.” We are not to live like the world but live like Kingdom-people so that our life is full and we are fulfilled. Jesus said that some will reject our message, some will persecute us. We don’t understand why but we need to move on. Just shake the dust off our feet and move on. As in the Parable of the Sower, when we scatter seed, they fall on different kinds of soil. Some are responsive; some will reject. Continue nonetheless and move on because it is not our concern, but God’s as He causes the growth as we plant and we water.

What is the message that we give to those that we preach the gospel to? It is to repent, to renew their minds and to not think like the world thinks. The problem of the Church today is much of how we think according to the world. We should live and think according to the principles of the kingdom of our God. We have idols (not those man-made objects) but those ideologies (of the mind and the heart) – the worldview like same sex marriage or adultery that replaces the instructions and the will of God in our hearts.

In the Old Testament, Amos said, “I am not a prophet, nor the son of one. I am a grower of figs, but the Lord called me and he ordained me to preach His word.” Some of the apostles were fishermen and were belittled by the Pharisees and the Scribes because they were not learned in Scripture. They were mere attendees of the synagogues. They were not graduates of Theology or Divinity. God calls the faithful, not the able. Jesus told His disciples, “Do not worry for the Holy Spirit will give you utterance and the ability to do your task.” Whom God calls, He equips. Where He guides, He provides. Patriarch Craig Bates always reminds the CEC bishops, “Look for the faithful, not the able,” with regards to the Church workers. The faithful, God will enable. In 2 Timothy 2:2, St. Paul says, “Choose faithful men … who will be able. Some are able, but they are really not faithful. What is the use of ability if one is not faithful?

God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called whom He calls. Jesus told His apostles that it is not going to be easy. St. Paul says in 2 Timothy 3:12, “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” When Jesus heard that John the Baptist died, He did not hide but instead preached the gospel. Nothing stopped Him. The early Church was persecuted, but it didn’t stop them. Some of our excuses may be laughable to early Christians - traffic, heat, distance, petty reasons and disagreements – and these are nothing compared to being fed to lions, being burned or being crucified. If we give up, our enemies triumphs over us. Jesus tells us, “Do not be afraid. I have overcome the world and I have given you authority over these spirits.”

In the early days of the western world, they had stagecoaches, which are a horse-drawn public transport. They move five kilometers per hour and they move on steep, bumpy and rough roads. They offer 3 types of tickets for passengers. First-class tickets passengers get to sit inside the coach and when trouble arises during the journey, the passengers shall not be asked to disembark while the trouble is being fixed. For the second-class tickets, passengers can sit inside but when trouble arises, they have to get out of the coach to lighten the load for the coach to be fixed. For the third-class tickets, passengers can sit inside the coach, but when there is a problem, they have to get out and they are to help fix the problem.

We, as Christians and missionaries, are not given first-class or second-class tickets. We are not just to sit, to watch, to stand aside, and to get out of the way while others fix the problem. We are to fix the problem. The problem of the world is that it is broken because of sin and separation from God. We have been enabled to fix this and we have authority over evil spirits and over the problems. We are called to serve and to help fix the problem because we have been empowered to do these.

We are not “consumer Christians” but servants of God. The good news is as Jesus has overcome, we can overcome. As Jesus did it with the power of the Holy Spirit, we have the Holy Spirit to do it as well. We are called and sent out. Let us follow the lead of the Lord for this is the way it is in the kingdom of our God.

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