Fr. Frank McDevitt is the pastor of Our Lady of Grace Parish in Aurora, Ont.
Jesus teaches with urgency in today’s Gospel.
He sends out the disciples, but in sending them out, He challenges them to see the immediacy of their task.
They are not to get confused about this journey. He says do not waste a lot of time on extra baggage. They have a mission.
Our relationship with Jesus is to be like the journey of these early disciples: Our faith life is not made better by all kinds of extra baggage.
What is the baggage that we can find ourselves wanting to hold on to?
Often we can come to believe that we are not worthy; we want to define ourselves by the sins of our past. We want to be limited by what we see as our talents – or lack of them.
Amos, in the first reading, says that he cannot be a prophet for he is a herdsman, a dresser of trees. He does not have the qualifications of a prophet. But God sends him out because Amos is a herdsman who is to be a prophet. That is his qualification.
For us who are Christians, the qualification is quite simple: We must accept that we belong to Jesus. As Paul says, Christ destined us for adoption as His children. We have redemption through the Blood of Christ.
Like Amos, we are sent out into this world to be a source of the good news of Jesus Christ.
If we are a retired person living on our own, then that is our qualification for sharing the good news, for that is how we know God and are witness to His love.
If we are a teenager hanging out with friends, then that is our qualification for sharing the good news, for God knows and loves us as a teenager.
Each member of a family, from the youngest to the oldest, comes with their own unique qualifications for proclaiming the good news. Not necessarily proclaiming with words of preaching, rather by our actions around others and the attitudes that motivate those actions.
Whether it is with the trust of a child or the wisdom of age, each person has a special gift for proclaiming the love of God. Whether there is illness or other limitations placed on us, we are still free to proclaim the love of God by the way we live and the attitudes we espouse.
This hot weather always reminds me of my childhood and youth on the farm, when this hot early-July weather meant it was haying time. Today we see these big round bales in the farmer’s fields, but when I worked on the farm, all hay was collected in small, compact bales, which had to be moved by hand from the field to the barn.
Haying was hard work, dirty work and in the midst of it, there never seemed to be an end in sight, as we worked in mows on days like these, under a tin roof, in the dust and the heat.
In spite of that, I loved haying. It was an occasion of tremendous comradery amongst everyone: From the youngest carrying water to those bailing the hay to the oldest, who were driving the tractor because they could no longer do the heavy lifting. Everyone worked in cooperation, because there is no room for competition while working as a team.
It was an intimate time when the hay, given by God’s Earth, was gathered. Riding the wagon to the field, feeling the coolness of the breeze after being in the hot barn. Aware of changes in the field from year-to-year as crops improved or waned. Aware of the changes in people from year-to-year. Of little ones who were now big enough to move the bales and of older ones who were no longer able to do what they once could.
Any harvest is a time of wonderful immediacy when everyone has a role to play. Our Christian life is a harvest. We all have a role to play. Each of us by the gifts we have to share bring the good news to the world. Our actions and attitudes speak the love of God to others. We may feel like Amos, unprepared, but the work of God is upon us.
Like the farmers who head into the fields at this time of year, there cannot be worries or distractions which hold us back, for the harvest is ready and the weather is dry. This is the time to bring in the hay.
So, too, the great harvest of God, in which Paul says all things will be gathered up in Christ, is upon us.
Let us live today and tomorrow like we are the harvester.
Let us continue to work together to bring all things to Christ.
Young and old, rich and poor, able and limited, all of us play a role. And all of us now give thanks to God in this Eucharist for being part of His great work.
This homily is based on the readings for the 15th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B: Book of Amos 7:12-15; Letter of St. Paul to the Ephesians 1:3-14; and Mark 6:7-13