Father Donald Senior, CP

July 15: 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

We are all ‘sent’ by the Lord

Am 7:12-15; Ps 85:9-10, 11-12, 13-14; Eph 1:3-14; Mk 6:7-13

One of the legends of classic Chicago politics was a comment passed on by the late Abner Mikva, the distinguished lawyer, judge and presidential advisor. Early in his career he wanted to volunteer to serve in the presidential campaign of Adlai Stevenson and went to offer his services to the local ward committee man, Timothy Sullivan. 

When Mikva offered to help, Sullivan took a cigar out of his mouth and asked, “Who sent you?” Mikva replied, “Nobody sent me.” Sullivan gave the now immortal reply, “We don’t want nobody nobody sent.”

Strangely enough, there is a certain biblical resonance here, as reflected in the readings for this Sunday. A fundamental conviction of both the Old and New Testaments is that God calls each of us for a purpose and sometimes leads us into a path we may not expect. We are all “sent.”

A case in point is the confession of Amos, the great Old Testament prophet from Tekoa. Amaziah, a priest of the northern sanctuary of Bethel, is annoyed by Amos’ blunt and powerful prophetic challenges and tells him to do his prophesying in the southern region of Judah. Amos insists he is not a professional prophet. He comes from a family of shepherds and gardeners. It was the Lord, he says, who “took me from following the flock, and said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’”  

Amos’ humility and reluctance to accept the mantle of prophet echoes in other Old Testament prophets: Moses hesitates before God’s call because he stammers; Jeremiah worries that he is too young; Isaiah confesses that he is a man “of unclean lips.” Nevertheless, God calls them for a special purpose.  

The same is true in the New Testament. In Luke’s Gospel, Peter falls to his knees when he experiences the power of Jesus on the Sea of Galilee, but nevertheless Jesus tells him, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will be fishing for people.” 

Paul may be the supreme example. Driven by excessive zeal, he persecuted the early Christians, only to have his life turned into a whole new direction when confronted by the Risen Christ. Paul never forgets that he was “the least of the apostles,” “one untimely born.” Later in his letter to the Galatians he reflects on the fact that God called him from all time, even before he was “knit together in his mother’s womb.”

The beautiful second reading today from Ephesians also stresses that God calls us and gives a purpose for our lives “before the foundation of the world.” “In him we were also chosen, destined in accord with the purpose of the one who accomplishes all things according to the intention of his will, so that we might exist for the praise of his glory.”  

In the Gospel selection from Mark we see Jesus calling the Twelve and sending them out two by two to heal the sick and proclaim the kingdom of God. They were not to worry about fortifying themselves with special equipment — only a walking stick, sandals and a tunic. God’s Spirit would empower them.

A few years ago, the evangelical pastor Rick Warren wrote a popular book, “The Purpose-Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For?” That is, in fact, a good biblical question raised for us this Sunday. What is God asking of us? What are we called or sent to do? How can I use my talents, my circumstances, my opportunities, to bring new and meaning life to others?  

Our purpose or mission may not have the dramatic qualities of a Moses or the apostle Paul, but none of us is insignificant in God’s eyes. Each of us, as the letter to the Ephesians proclaims, is destined for lives of holiness and praise. Each of us, even in modest everyday ways, can use the talents and opportunities that God gives us to live with integrity and make choices that reflect the beauty of the Gospel.



  • scripture