Commentary for 15th Sunday Year B

Resources Used:
  • Balthasar’s Light of the Word
First Reading: Amos 7:12–15
12 And Amaziah said to Amos, “O seer, go, flee away to the land of Judah, earn your bread there, and prophesy there; 13 but never again prophesy at Bethel, for it is the king’s sanctuary, and it is a temple of the kingdom.”
14 Then Amos answered Amaziah, “I am no prophet, nor a prophet’s son; but I am a herdsman, and a dresser of sycamore trees, 15 and the Lord took me from following the flock, and the Lord said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’

Amos’ call is fully comparable to those of the Galilean fishermen. Neither they nor he wished for or chose such an assignment. They are simply placed on the path: “God and speak to my people” (Balthasar, LW, 220).

Amos is often thought to be the earliest of all the literary (writing) prophets, since his relatively short ministry probably fell in the decade 770-760 BC. Amos 1:1 dates his prophecy to “two years before the earthquake” during the reigns of Uzziah of Judah and Jeroboam II of Israel, an event that archeologists now estimate at c. 760 BC, ±25 yrs.  This would probably place his ministry just prior to Hosea’s longer career (c. 750-725BC). Amos, like Hosea, prophesied to northern Israel; but unlike Hosea, Amos was not a northerner himself.  He was a Judean from Tekoa, a village to the south of Jerusalem, an agricultural worker who raised sheep and tended an orchard of sycamore-figs (Amos 7:14). He was called by God to preach judgment to northern Israel at a time when that nation was wealthy, arrogant, and oppressive to their southern neighbors.  Amos clearly distances himself from the professional prophets who learned prophesying from their fathers and practiced it as a kind of family trade (see Amos 7:12-14).  He was not motivated by a desire to earn a living, but was impelled by a genuine commission from God (7:15). —  A Catholic Introduction to the Bible: The Old Testament, Dr. Pitre

Response: Psalm 85:8
7Show us your steadfast love, O Lord, and grant us your salvation.
Psalm: Psalm 85:9–14
8Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his faithful, to those who turn to him in their hearts.
9Surely his salvation is at hand for those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land.
10Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other.
11Faithfulness will spring up from the ground, and righteousness will look down from the sky.
12The Lord will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase.
13Righteousness will go before him, and will make a path for his steps.
Second Reading: Ephesians 1:3–14
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. 5 He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight 9 he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. 11 In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, 12 so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; 14 this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.

“The great opening of the letter to the Ephesians places the person chosen by God into God’s all-encompassing, timeless plan of salvation: what I am and what I shall be has been set out from eternity, before the creation of the world. Neither as an individual nor merely within time am I called, rather I exist as someone already fitted into a predestined comprehensive design consisting in Christ’s Incarnation, the glorification of the Father’s loving grace, and the Holy Spirit’s seal. No man is an island, rather, each is comprehensible only as he is embedded in an unsurveyable landscape in which everything is radiant with the “praise of the glory of the grace” of God” (Balthasar, LW, 220).

Gospel: Mark 6:7–13
7 He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. 8 He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; 9 but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics. 10 He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. 11 If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” 12 So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. 13 They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

“Their call is a call to conversion, not to success. Should no one respond to the call it ought not affect them – they should simply move on and try again elsewhere. All we are told after this point is that the Twelve took to the road and achieved certain successes. The naked Gospel (sine glossa) is the most convincing” (Balthasar, LW, 219).

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