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YEAR B: HOMILY FOR THE 15TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: THE PREACHER AND MONEY
BY: Fr. Gerald M. Musa
The story of Amaziah is a classical and sad tale of a religious leader who joined the tribe of sychophants. Once upon a time there were two men, one’s name was Amaziah and the other was Amos. Amaziah was a priest who served the King’s palace and Amos was a prophet who challenged the wrong policies and actions that came for the palace. The king hated Amos because he spoke truth to power. He loved Amaziah because he was more of a sychophant who never criticised but always supported the king. Amaziah supported the king because of the many gifts he received from him.
Amos was a social critic and was able to challenge the king because he was not interested in becoming rich. Amos who spoke the truth to the king was therefore faithful to God and honest to his vocation as a messenger of truth. Amaziah, on the other hand was an opportunist who took advantage of his position, and turned back against God and the poor and paid his allegiance only to the king, from whose table he fed.
The priest Amaziah became angry in seeing Amos performing his duty as a priest. He bluntly told Amos to get away from the land and prophesy elsewhere. Amos emphatically responded that he did not call himself into the ministry of being a prophet, but it was the Lord who called him and gave him the responsibility of challenging the establishment. In other words, he was saying to Amaziah, if you reject me for the work that I do, it is not me that you reject, but you are rejecting the God who sent me to carry out his mission in this land.
One great lesson we can learn from Prophet Amos is the importance of discovering our mission and remaining faithful to that mission. St. Paul reminds us in his letter to the Ephesians that God called each one of us before the foundation of the world to be holy and different from the rest of the world. Naturally, people will question us and challenge us for being different. Like the prophet Amos, we must always remember that it is not us who have called ourselves, but it is God who has called us to be who we are. The prophet Amos knew the dangerous implications of speaking the truth. He was persecuted and insulted for fulfilling his mission and yet no stiff resistance from the palace deterred him. He remained fearless in the face of opposition.
Most often God places us in strategic positions in order to enable us bring about a change. More often than not, we behave like the priest Amaziah who was so interested in his pocket that he forgot his mission. Amaziah turned a blind eye to the wrong doings of the king and failed to stand up straight for what was right because he was enjoying the privileges of the palace.
Jesus did not want his apostles to be like Amaziah. Therefore, he called out his disciples and sends them out two by two and clearly defined their mission: to go and preach the word and cast out devils from the world. He instructed them to adopt a simple lifestyle and reject worldly ambition of money and possession. “He charged 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” (Mark 6:8-9). In other words, he was saying to his apostles, “If your ambition is to enjoy the world, you cannot serve God properly or preach the message effectively.
However, if your ambition is to reject the world and all its pleasures, that is the only time you can preach the word most effectively.” Don’t get it wrong! Material wealth is helpful and not entirely bad in itself, but has enormous power to distract; Jesus teaches us the power of modesty and the spiritual virtue of detachment from material wealth. How possible is it to be an effective preacher of the word and own so much personal property or run chains of business enterprises and conglomerates? Over two thousand years ago, Jesus warned, No one can effectively serve two masters (Luke 16:13). – It is next to impossible to serve both God and money!
15th Sunday of the Year B/ Amos 7:12-15; Ephesians 1:3-14; Mark 6:7-13