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Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Amos 7:12-15; Mk. 6:7-13

Love Jesus with all your heart and do as He tells you - and you are sure to receive opposition. The great Saint Paul once asked the rhetorical question, "If God is for us, who can be against us?" Experience, both in his own life and in the life of every committed follower of Christ since him, tells the painful truth that even with God on your side quite a crowd of folks will be arrayed against you!

Ask a chaplain in a prison or hospital if all of the patients or inmates respect and affirm him for his service; ask the volunteer at the soup kitchen, giving hours to serve the poor in the inner city, if all those she serves appreciate her service. Both will tell you that there are many blessings in the service of Christ, and yes, there are many that affirm and encourage their efforts, but just as surely, there are voices in the crowd 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 service. Here is God's promise for those who serve Him. You will be blessed, but you will also be opposed. Why is this? Why would anyone oppose God or His servant?

Opposition comes because people would rather cling to the darkness they know than to live in the light. This was certainly the case with Amos, called by God from his shepherding and farming during the eighth century BC in the Southern Kingdom of Israel, to preach in the Northern Kingdom. He brought a scathing denunciation against the king and his policies, and preached gloom and doom. It was a most unpopular message to bear.

Finally, the official prophet of the Bethel Temple, a staff professional on the king's payroll, told Amos to go back to the South where he belonged. Amos reminded Amaziah that his calling came from higher authority than that of the king.

History proves that Amos was right. God brought about all that He sent Amos to preach. But Amos had no such assurance at the time. He had only the conviction of his calling. If we must stand for a truth, and hold a conviction that is unpopular, or that brings us in direct confrontation with the government, or costs us our job, may we be blessed with the same quiet confidence. Sometimes a follower of God must walk a lonely path.

When opposition comes we should not dwell on it. Jesus gives us a simple image to remember when this happens. He Himself had just experienced rejection in His own hometown of Nazareth when he told His disciples simply to shake the dust of the town off their sandals. What did He mean? That we should free ourselves of the lingering effects of defeat before seeking the next opportunity of service. If we are to be successful in serving Christ it is very important we follow this instruction.

Successful salespeople learn this lesson early on, or they find another line of work! One door slammed in their face does not mean that every door will be closed to them. A lost sale does not mean that he or she will never sell to anyone. Neither does one rejection of the Gospel mean that everyone will reject the message, or that you should quit trying to serve God because you feel like a failure. Shake the dust of that failure off your shoes, as Jesus Himself told you, and walk with a light step to the next door.

Lord Jesus, help me to remember that heroes are simply people who got up one more time when they were knocked down and give me Your support whenever I try to be a hero for You.

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