Old Calendar: Sixth Sunday after Pentecost
And he called to him the twelve, and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics. And he said to them, "Where you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. And if any place will not receive you and they refuse to hear you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet for a testimony against them (Mk 6:7-11)."
The first reading is taken from the Book of the Prophet Amos 7:12-15. When he foretold the murder of Jeroboan and the exile of Israel Amos was denounced by Amaziah, the priest in charge of the sanctuary of Bethel, and was expelled from Israel.The second reading is from the Letter of St. Paul to the Ephesians 1:3-14 or 1:3-10. This letter was written from Rome to remind St. Paul's converts to continue to be faithful to the teaching he had given them while in Ephesus.The Gospel is from St. Mark 6:7-13. That Christ the Son of God could have spread his Gospel of peace and love, his message of eternal salvation, to the whole world without human help need not be proved. He could, for instance, have written the Gospel in the sky-over each country in its own language. He could have gone to every part of the earth, after his resurrection, and taught his doctrine to all peoples, confirming his words with extraordinary miracles. Yet he chose the weaker but the more human way of evangelizing men—he sent their own fellowmen to bring them the message. This choice showed his divine love and understanding of weak human nature, much better and much more effectively than the use of any of the supernatural means which he could have employed. God, and Christ is God, gave man the gift that we call freewill. Man is able to choose between alternatives. God wants man to choose heaven as his eternal home, but he wants him to choose it without compulsion or coercion. He will have volunteers in heaven not conscripts. The man who chooses heaven must choose the means for going there. If you choose a holiday resort for your summer vacation, you must buy travel tickets, book a hotel and save up the expenses necessary for the holiday. By appointing mortal men to bring the news of salvation, the news of heaven, and the means of getting there to all of us, Christ has given us the chance of exercising our freewill and therefore of meriting heaven. Refusal to accept would hardly be possible if Christ informed us miraculously or taught us in person. If some extraordinary individual could persist in refusing, his refusal would be utterly inexcusable. God's mercy and love can reach into the darkest corners and produce fruit from the most unlikely and apparently most neglected of orchards. While we thank God from our hearts today for having been put on the road to heaven, let us remember in our prayers our fellowmen, God's other children, who are trudging along through the fields and hedges. May God continue to show his mercy and divine understanding toward them!Excerpted from The Sunday Readings by Fr. Kevin O'Sullivan, O.F.M.