Elijah is hungry. Walking a day in the desert, he settles under a broom tree.…
Opening the Word: Elected and sent
God elects Christians. I don’t mean that individual Christians are placed on some celestial ballot. Rather, every Christian is part of the elect, those who have been graciously chosen by God for salvation.
But whom does God elect? And what does God want from those who are chosen?
God’s voting record doesn’t make a lot of sense from the perspective of power politics. God chooses Amos, “a herdsmen and a dresser of sycamores” (Am 7:14). He is not among the prophetic class, those who have power in the Temple.
But let us look more closely at God’s election of Amos. He is a shepherd. In Psalm 23, we hear that God is the shepherd, the one who cares for the chosen people of Israel. In 1 Samuel, David, the greatest king of Israel, is elected and anointed as king while serving as a shepherd.
|15th Sunday in Ordinary Time – July 15, 2018|
PS 85:9-10, 11-12, 13-14
EPH 1:3-14 OR 1:3-10
Amos’ secondary vocation is dresser of sycamore trees. The sycamore tree has a small fruit. The fruit was inedible until it was ripped apart, getting rid of the noxious insect that dwelled inside.
Amos is thus both shepherd and dresser of sycamore trees. God elects him. He is chosen among those without power. And he will preach God’s word to the northern Kingdom of Israel, a word that reveals Israel’s hardness of heart. He is sent to Israel so that they might bear fruit.
In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus also elects and sends the apostles to the kingdom of Israel. Like Amos, they are those without power, unknown fishermen from Galilee.
Yet, the Twelve are given a power that comes directly from God. They anoint and drive out demons in the name of Jesus Christ. And they travel lightly, ready to leave at a moment’s notice. Ready to leave if they are rejected.
Once again, God’s election is strange. The kingdom of God is announced not through the authority of an earthly king but six groups of two, poor men who proclaim a power that is not their own.
God did not only elect Amos or the Twelve. Through baptism, God elects each of us, choosing us “before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him” (Eph 1:4).
The Father sent the Son into the world, manifesting to us the totality of love upon the cross. Through baptism, we have become adopted sons and daughters of God. We enter into the love of the Father and the Son, into the divine will, through the presence of the Spirit dwelling among us.
This election of men and women to share in divine life is not offered to those who deserve it. It was given before the foundation of the world, before any human being could do anything to earn it.
Salvation was offered gratis, freely, as gift.
We, Christians, have been elected. We have been sent to the world to offer the good news that this election is not just a private phenomenon, reserved for those who have really earned it.
Our election and baptism are but a foretaste of the destiny of all humankind. It is the gift that has been offered to the Church for the salvation of the world.
So, like Amos and the Apostles, we have to give God’s divine mercy away. We have to go to the places without power, without prestige, and share God’s mercy through binding the wounds of the lost and lonely.
And we do so not as the powerful. Not as the special.
Just those elected by God.
Timothy P. O’Malley, Ph.D., is managing director of the McGrath Institute for Church Life.