The Sense of Unimportant Days
The doldrums of summer stretch out before us, lulling us into a sense of unimportant days blurring together in the Lectionary. After the multitude of feasts, solemnities, and the close of the Easter season in the last month, the July readings might not seem exceptional to a casual reader. However, this carefree season is where the Lord reminds us that He is continuously calling us to be disciples in our lives and go out into the world spreading the Gospel.
Today’s first reading has the prophet Amos arguing with Amaziah, a priest of Bethel. The text focuses on chapter 7, verses 12 through 15, condensing their conversation to a few lines. However, if you read the full text of their conversation in chapter 7, Amos fully describes the vision of destruction of the house of Jeroboam he has been shown by the Lord. Amaziah denies Amos legitimacy as a prophet and the prophecy, then orders Amos out of the city. Amos rebukes Amaziah, saying that he did not desire to be a prophet. Rather, the Lord chose Amos from among the shepherds of the field and sent him out into the world.
In the Gospel reading, Jesus gathers the apostles and sends them out into the world as well. In addition to the directions for how to drive out demons and cure the faithful, Jesus gives very specific instructions: Take nothing for the journey save for a walking stick and sandals. This stark packing list sounds jarring to the disciples and also to our modern ear. How many of us are currently planning vacations, filling suitcases with clothes, gadgets, and other necessities for daily life? Perhaps we have recently returned from a trip, returning with more in the suitcases than when we left. In his sparse packing list, Jesus is giving a message to the disciples and to us in turn: Trust in the Lord and go out into the world. As Catholics, it is our duty to spread the word of God and act with Christian charity in everything we do. Sometimes the commissioning spirit is obvious - at Confirmations, graduations, the Pentecost liturgy. Sometimes, however, the Lord picks us up out of our quiet fields while we are tending the sheep in our own lives. It is tempting to ignore the call and continue with what we are already doing. It is tempting as well to overpack and focus on the items in our lives that we feel are necessary for a journey. Today’s readings are a timely reminder that even though today might not be a “big” day of celebration, we are always called to live in witness for Christ. God calls us to be disciples and answer the call when it comes.