15th Sunday In Ordinary Time

Right from the beginning, when he sent his disciples out into the world to share the good news, Jesus told them that they would be rejected:

"Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them."

The fact that people would refuse to hear God's word is nothing new. It's been a problem for humanity from the beginning. It's the reason sin exists in the world: God told us something we didn't like and we didn't want to obey.

There's another example in today's first reading. The prophet Amos is doing what God told him to do - prophesying in the northern kingdom of Israel - but the people there don't want to hear it. Look at what Amaziah said to Amos: "Off with you, visionary, flee to the land of Judah! There earn your bread by prophesying, but never again prophesy in Bethel ..."

In other words, "please leave."

Now it's pretty easy to look at other people like that and point out where they reject God's Word, but the message of these readings is for all of us. I'm not just preaching about this because I'm the priest and I want you to listen to me. This is a danger for you and me: that God's word to us comes as a threat to our desires or our comfort. It's so much easier to just do the things we like regardless of whether they are good for us or not.

We often want to live for comfort, but we were not made for comfort. As Pope Benedict XVI once wrote, we are "created for greatness—for God himself" (Spe Salvi, 33), so choosing to listen to God's Word is not just about saying no to something, but saying yes to the greatest possible thing.

Hearing and obeying God's Word means taking in the challenging things He says to us because they are for our ultimate good. What God offers us and what comes from obeying Him is true happiness; so, it should be our priority to hear Him and to act on what we hear.

One way to do that is to hear His words in the Scriptures. The Bible isn't just another old book. Jesus is present to us in His words and we have to be willing to let Him speak to us. Read a chapter a day or look at each days readings for Mass. The Lord has something to say to you in the Scriptures.

Another important way for us to say "yes" to God's words to us is to take time to be silent before Him. I feel like I say it in every homily, but it is always true: we must have silence in our prayer. If we don't take time to listen to God, how will we ever hear Him?

Listening to God's word also means listening to the teachings of the Church despite our personal feelings or opinions. Being Catholic means embracing the fullness of the Faith, revealed by God in our Church, even though that puts us at odds with the culture in which we live. It means taking it seriously when our bishops call us to action to defend the poor or people who are strangers to us even if it seems to challenge our politics.

Just like the apostles, we may be rejected when we share the Gospel, but that doesn't take away our obligation to do so. Like the prophet Amos and the apostles, we are each chosen and sent by the Lord Jesus. Our lives are a witness to God's presence - so let's constantly listen to what He is saying and do what He asks us to do.