The National Catholic Review
Dianne Bergant
Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B), July 13, 2003
“Go, prophesy to my people Israel” (Am 7:15)

Last week we reflected on the arduous role of the prophets. We also considered the possibility that we might be called to bear a burden similar to theirs. Today’s readings leave no doubt in our minds. We are all indeed called in some way to “prophesy to my people.” We might be startled by this. Our first response might be: Who? Me?—Yes, you!

 

Paul is ebullient as he describes the loftiness of our call in Christ. We are blessed, chosen, destined for adoption. We have heard the word of truth, and we have believed. It is now our responsibility to proclaim that truth to others. With the Apostles, we too have been given authority over unclean spirits. We have been commissioned to preach repentance, to drive out demons and to cure the sick. Such details could even startle us more, and we might respond anew: Who? Me? Yes, you and me and every other baptized Christian.

Today’s readings reveal once again that God chooses ordinary people and confers on them extraordinary responsibility. Amos was a simple shepherd and a dresser of sycamore trees, yet he was sent to challenge the official priest at the shrine at Bethel. Many of the Apostles were common fishermen, yet they were sent first to various villages in Galilee and then to Samaria and to the ends of the earth. Paul was an ordinary tentmaker, yet he stood before kings and magistrates.

Christians today are mechanics and clerks, teachers and engineers, doctors and housekeepers. Few of them are asked to leave their ordinary trades or professions, for it is precisely within them that they fulfill their calling. They touch minds and hearts and souls with the tenderness of God, and they heal them. They instruct and comfort people in need, and they help to drive out the demons that seem to have a stranglehold on them. In very ordinary ways, these simple faithful people participate in the extraordinary establishment of the reign of God.

Perhaps our initial incredulity regarding our call stems from the mistaken idea that we cannot do what is required or that we cannot leave the lives we now live. But we can do it, because we have been “blessed in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens.” And many of us do not have to leave the lives that we live. We need only live them better. We need only discover ways in those lives to proclaim the good news of salvation, to help people release themselves from their addictions and to touch them with the healing power of God’s tenderness. Who? Me?—Who else?

Dianne Bergant, C.S.A., is professor of biblical studies at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago.

Readings: 
Readings: Am 7:12-15; Ps 85:9-14; Eph 1:3-14; Mk 6:7-13
Prayer: 

• In what ways do you further the ministry that Jesus bequeathed to the apostles?

• What religious leaders have made the most impact on your life? What did they do?

• What religious values influence your choice of political leaders? What does this tell you about yourself?