I read a story of a prison chaplain and he challenges us. He went to talk with a man sentenced to die in the electric chair. He urged him to believe in Jesus Christ and be baptized; that forgiveness and eternity with God awaited him if only he would turn towards God. The prisoner said, "Do you really believe that?" "Of course I do," replied the chaplain. "Go on," scoffed the prisoner. "If I believed that I would crawl on hands and knees over broken glass to tell others, but I don't see you Christians making any big thing of it!" He had a point.
Recent years we talked about New Evangelization. We all received baptism and became adopted children and we are sent out to evangelize. But over the time we lost its true meaning. There may be some of our friends and relatives who turn away from faith. The New Evangelization calls all Catholics to be Evangelized and then go out to evangelize.
This weekends reading reminds us we are called to be disciples, and at the same time we are called to be apostles. In the first reading God chose Amos to deliver His words to the people of Bethel. He was from southern kingdom and worked in an orchard. God sent him to the northern kingdom. Amaziah, the chief priest in charge of the sanctuary, told Amos to go back to south and learn to live, because he was prophesying against the King Jeroboam. In those days there were prophets who misled the people. We see in the book of Micah 3:5, “Thus says the LORD regarding the prophets: O you who lead my people astray, when your teeth have something to bite you announce peace, but proclaim war against the one who fails to put something in your mouth.” Deutronomy 18:22 says, “If a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord but the word does not come true, it is a word the Lord did not speak. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; do not fear him.” Amos reacts strongly to Amaziah’s attempt to classify him as a “prophet for hire who earns bread” by prophesying. Amos said, “I am not a prophet and not belong to a company prophet. I am a herdsman and a dresser of sycamore.” So this ordinary man, Amos, became the vehicle of God’s truth.
The first reading prepare to listen to the Gospel reading. Jesus sent twelve ordinary men to proclaim the Good News. Jesus sent them two by two and gave the instruction. St. Gregory the Great suggests that Jesus sent out the disciples in pairs to signify that the twin precepts of charity: love of God and love of neighbor, are indispensable for the duty of Christian preaching. Jesus gave them authority. In the Gospel of Matthew 10:1, we read, “Then he summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirit to drive them out and to cure every disease and every illness.” Jesus instructed them “To take nothing for the journey but a walking stick, no food, no sack, no money in their belt (Mark 6:8).” These detailed directions were indications for the need to move quickly and to be totally dependent on God’s care.
The second reading is a prayer of praising God in the form of benediction and thanksgiving for the many blessings He has showered and God has accomplished in Jesus. St. Thomas Aquinas commented on this passage that: “The apostle says, ‘Blessed be God’ that is, may I and you and everyone bless him with our heart, our mouth, our actions.” Paul says, through Christ, God has given us a clear purpose in life—to praise and to serve God and one another—with the Holy Spirit as a helper in carrying out the task.
Pope Francis keeps reminding us that our Catholic faith is not primarily a bunch of rules to follow, rather, it's a relationship, friendship with a real, living person Jesus Christ. And a healthy life of prayer means that we spend time each day with that friend, listening to what he has to say to us, especially through the words of the Bible, and speaking to him about what's on our minds and hearts.
Every time we gather to celebrate the Eucharist, God gives us nourishment through His Word and Body and Blood and at the end of Mass we are sent out to proclaim the Good News. Once God sent Amos, Jesus sent His disciples, and today He sends each one of us with same message. New Evangelization invites us relearn our faith, renew our relationship with Christ and His Church.