What Matters in Faith

07-11-2021Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

Although we are usually an infant when we are baptized, the church's theology says that at the time of our baptism, our vocation to follow Christ starts. We are His beloved children and are united to Him. Every one of us at baptism is called to become a holy and good person. How this all happens depends upon the grace of God in our lives and how we accept this grace and live it. In our reading from Saint Paul this weekend, we hear how the great apostle Paul gave great praise and was full of gratitude and amazement that he of all people had been chosen by God, redeemed by Christ, and drawn into the eternal mysteries. We need to know and understand that this calling and election is not Paul's alone. This calling and election, in fact, belongs to all the baptized. We need to remember that we also are chosen and are sealed by the promised Spirit. All of this has happened in each one of us and all we have to do, like Paul, is give praise and thanks.

The first reading is a great contrast to Paul's writings. The prophet Amos was suddenly seized by God with a vocation and a mission, enough so that there is a book of the bible named after him. Amos does God's bidding, testifies, and finds himself in trouble with Amaziah. Amos is stuck between God and the difficult priest Amaziah. Yet, Amos fulfills his vocation as a prophet no matter what.

Our Gospel tells us the story of Jesus sending the twelve apostles out on their first missionary journey without him. We need to realize that this particular story is the first of stories of Mark about the mission of Jesus to the whole of Israel. The Gospel writer Matthew also has a similar story about this, but it varies in some of the details. In neither account does the mission of the apostles vary. They all are to travel lightly and keep their eyes on the "big stuff" or "what matters"; they are to stand against evil in all forms spiritual and physical. This does not mean they are to berate and criticize everyone and judge them. Their mission is rooted in Jesus. From Him comes their power and meaning. They do not need to depend upon others. They are to go off two by two to fulfill the mission of Jesus. We also should go about each day as missionary witnesses to the power and love of Jesus. We need to remember what matters in faith and then live and share this with others.