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GOSPEL PEOPLE MUST BE READY FOR OPPOSITION

Father Francis's picture
Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Amos 7:12-15; Eph. 1:3-14; Mk. 6:7-13

If you serve God you have to be prepared to be opposed. You will find that not everyone loves you, or respects your service to God, or appreciates your commitment. Serving God provokes some people to oppose you who would otherwise have ignored you. Why is this? “If God is for us, who can be against us?” Saint Paul once asked. Experience, both in the life of the great Apostle, and in the life of every committed follower of Christ since then, tells the painful truth - that even if you have God on your side, you can have quite a crowd of people arrayed against you.

Ask the person serving as a prison or hospital chaplain if all the inmates or patients respect and acknowledge their service. Ask the volunteers at a soup kitchen, giving hours to serve the poor in the inner city, if all of those they serve appreciate their service. Ask the teachers in Catholic schools, serving Christ and the Church for less pay than they could make in a public school, if all the parents and students bless them for their efforts and sacrifice. They will all tell you the same story. Yes, there are many blessings in the service of Christ, and there are many individuals who are grateful and encourage their vocation, but there are voices that belittle their sacrifice, mock their sense of calling and reject their service.

The scripture lessons today tell this painful truth for all of us who would hear and obey the calling of Christ to Gospel service. The Old Testament prophet Amos is confronted in the temple, told to go back home and barred from preaching by order of the king. In the Gospel, Jesus commissions His disciples to a preaching and healing ministry, but He warns them that both success and opposition will greet their efforts. Why would anyone oppose God’s servant?

The answer is that some people feel threatened by the truth. Some people prefer darkness than to live by the light that the truth brings. This was certainly the case with Amos yet history proved that he was right. In time God brought about all that He sent Amos to preach but Amos had no such assurance of this when he preached. He had only the conviction of his calling.

If you stand for the truth, and hold a conviction that is unpopular, or that brings you in direct confrontation with the government, or costs you your job, may you be blessed with the same quiet confidence. Sometimes a follower of God must walk a lonely path.

From the Gospel we learn that when opposition comes, we must not dwell on it. Jesus told His disciples to shake the dust of the town off their sandals. What did He mean? That one who had experienced rejection and opposition to the Gospel should shake themselves free of the lingering effects of that defeat before taking the next opportunity of service in the next town. This is because a rejection of the Gospel message does not mean that everyone will reject it, or that you should quit trying to serve God because you feel like a failure.

Lord Jesus, give us the confidence when necessary to shake the dust of failure off our shoes and to walk with the light of truth towards the next opportunity, when we might become the hero proclaiming the Gospel that You want us to be.

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