Sunday July 11, 2018 15th Sunday Ordinary Time (Cycle B)
The tie in between today’s readings: God is involved in every aspect of our salvation
Psalm 85:10 tells a particularly important story. Truth and Righteousness are walking together down this road discussing how we as sinners deserve the condemnation of God in Hell forever. Coming the other way Loving-kindness, and Peace are agonizing over how we may escape our fate. They all meet at an intersection. They clash. One side won’t give in because God’s holiness cannot abide man’s transgressions. The other side won’t give up pleading the love of God for forgiveness. No one can find a solution until a Man bearing a cross comes to the intersection and stands between the two sides. Jesus Christ, He who knew no sin became sin for us; that we may become the Righteousness of God in Him. Loving-kindness is revealed that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. He who is the Truth has brought us Peace. The attributes of God are satisfied. Man is saved. All he has to do is come to Jesus by faith for forgiveness. Problem solved. Roll credits.
In Ephesians 1, God lifts the veil a bit to show us a hidden aspect of salvation: predestination. From this vantage point is all the work of God, even from before the world began. Today’s reading is riddled with God action verbs: blessed us, chose us, predestined us, and adopted us. His purpose, His will, His sealing, His pledge, and the whole trinity is involved. Belief then is not just a person’s agreement with church doctrine; there is an active God element to it to reach a saving faith. Our “Come to Jesus” moment is more than just our recognizing a good deal when we see one. It’s a mystery: Man’s choice and God’s choice working together somehow. Let that cook your noodle.
Mark shows us Jesus starting His evangelism training program for the disciples. Certain elements appear here that resonate throughout the rest of the New Testament. We see total dependence on God for physical provisions: take what you need and no more. The authority over demons and healing the sick by anointing demonstrate the power and authority of God to back up their message. Finally, they will either be believed and abide with those that do or they will declare a testimony against those who don’t; showing the rudiments of the principle of the binding and loosing authority of the church.
Amos, in our Old Testament reading, tells his detractors about his calling that he was not a seminary boy, but a shepherd and orchard tender. God calls whom He will to fulfill every aspect of evangelizing the world. Amos was called from the flocks. Peter was called from the boats. God calls each and every one of His children also to take part in the Great Commission to spread the gospel worldwide. While he doesn’t specifically call all of us to the mission field or to pastor a church, we are all to think of ourselves as witnesses for Jesus in our area of influence and our job is just there to pay the expenses. From salvation, to belief, to evangelism, God’s purpose will be accomplished on earth as it is in heaven. Grace and Mercy are magnified by our privilege to participate in it. Let’s play our part.