The last couple of Sundays the Gospels have been focusing on the person of Jesus.
Today we begin to look at ourselves… What does it mean for us to be disciples of this Jesus? Each one of today’s Scripture readings point to the fact that God has called us to follow Jesus’ way in our daily lives. We seldom reflect on this as we go about our busy lives, dealing with health, finances, relationships, and the many other concerns which seem to crowd our days. Let’s take a closer look at what it means for us to be Jesus’ disciples.
Refrain… And they’ll know we are Christians by our love
The Scripture Readings
In the first reading we have Amos announcing God’s way to people in northern Israel. The professional announcers of God’s ways tell him – Go away. We don’t like what you’re saying. Amos tells them… I have no choice. God chose me and told me to do this. In the second Reading Paul reminds the Christians in Ephesus that they were chosen by God to follow Jesus… this is a blessing and a challenge.
God will be with them to help them. Our lives as disciples of Jesus are a glorious vocation, a wonderful calling and a challenge! Do we realize this? In today’s Gospel Jesus sends out his disciples to continue his mission of bringing life and healing, compassion and forgiveness to others. In our world today Jesus has chosen us to be his disciples. God calls us whether we’re aware of it or not. Whether we were born into the Church, or joined the Church… whether we explicitly choose to follow Jesus or don’t pay too much attention to our call. Life is not just about us. Life is not just about us. It’s about Jesus choosing us. We are called to continue his mission – to continue Jesus’ work. We are Jesus’ disciples today – all of us. Not just priests. Not just nuns. All of us. Jesus wants each of us to continue his work in our world. How? That’s the question!
Refrain… And they’ll know we are Christians by our love…
Let me give a simple example…. A story… I have a retired friend who now lives in the Charlotte, S.C. Recently we were together and he was describing some volunteer work he has gotten involved with. My retired friend enjoys his golf and not having the responsibilities of work. But he volunteers part of his leisure time each week at a local soup kitchen that feeds a lot of the homeless in the city… an echo of the heavenly banquet to which all are invited… even the poor and homeless. He told me the following story… He got to know some of the homeless. One day while walking through a park near the soup kitchen he spotted Gary. Gary was a meth addict and he was high on meth.
He was sitting on a park bench holding his hand and talking to himself. He didn’t look good – few meth addicts look good. As a matter of fact he looked terrible… shabby clothes, hair disheveled, teeth missing, skin and bones. You get the picture. My friend walked over to him and Gary – that was his name… imagine that, my friend knew his name… Gary held out his hand and mumbled that he had been bitten by a squirrel. My friend called 911. When the ambulance came the EMS folks took one look at Gary and talked about just walking away from this mess. My friend insisted that they take Gary to the ER – after all, Gary was a person, even if messed up. My friend also asked that they tell the doctors that Gary had been bitten by a squirrel. The EMS people loaded Gary into the ambulance and headed toward the hospital.
Two days later my friend was helping again at the soup kitchen when he saw Gary walking down the sidewalk toward the soup kitchen. He looked a bit better. He had washed up a bit, his hair was combed, and he didn’t have that wild look about him. My friend asked him how he was feeling, and he said, “Better than two days ago.” Then he showed my friend his bandaged hand and said that he had received rabies shots and he was going to be ok. They headed into the kitchen for breakfast together.
Was Gary healed of his meth problem? No… but my friend recognized that Gary was a child of God… and treated his as such… after all, the Master invited everyone into the banquet of life, even if that be a soup kitchen!
Would you invite Gary? Would you even know his name? This is a simple story of how one elder continues Jesus’ mission in our world today… I know there are many such stories…
Just think of the work that went into saving those young boys lost in a 2 mile cave in Thailand… often tragedy calls out the best in us… and many freely help. Think of the flooding this past year in Houston TX., and the volunteers who so generously responded to it. Think of flooded Millvale most recently and the folks who came out to help. These people were bringing the love of God and Jesus to the people they were helping, even if they didn’t realize it. That’s our vocation, our calling too… and to do it consciously as disciples of Jesus. Jesus’ disciple Francis of Assisi said it so simply…
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me bring love,
Where there is despair, hope,
Where there is darkness, light,
Where there is anger and resentment, forgiveness,
Where there is envy and greed, gratitude and sharing,
Where there is lust, mature caring and loving relationships,
Where there is arrogance, a humble understanding of our own worthwhileness, and the goodness of others,
Refrain… And they’ll know we are Christians by our love…
As we continue with this Eucharist, at the offertory we offer ourselves together with Jesus to our loving Father. Then we remember what Jesus did to save us from our self-centeredness and sinfulness. Jesus so loved us that he poured out his blood for us on Calvary. In Baptism we have been washed in the water that flowed from Jesus’ heart. At communion time we receive the blood that flowed from Jesus’ heart…
Remember Jesus’ words to you… I call you friend… You did not choose me. I chose you; I commission you to go out and to bear fruit. What will you reply to Jesus? Jesus, my friend, my shepherd, my Lord… help me to bear fruit. Help me to bring you and your way love into my world.