The joy of living simply

11 July 2021 - 15th Sunday Year B

Most of us can only admire those who reach the top of their profession. We realise what commitment is required to be an Olympic athlete, or to be a virtuoso musician: the hours of practice and training which culminate in winning trophies or playing in the great concert halls of the world.

Today, we are reminded that God’s chosen ones are called to make that kind of unconditional commitment to the cause. The prophet Amos is an interesting character. We hear enough of his story to know that it had not been an easy ride. One minute he was minding his own business and faithfully carrying out his duties as a shepherd and the next minute he realised that he was being called to challenge his people over their unfaithfulness to God.

Clearly, he was a man filled with passion for justice and he proclaimed his message without fear or favour. Consequently, he incurred the wrath of Amaziah, the priest, who told him to go away, but Amos had the strength of character to do his job in the face of all the attempts to discredit him.

Like the prophets of old, Jesus prepared his disciples for the possibility of rejection before sending them out on their first mission. His instructions were precise and demanding. They were not to carry any unnecessary baggage. They were to rely on the hospitality of the people and if that was not forthcoming, they were to demonstrate their displeasure and move on. In fact, we are told that the mission was a success, with many people being cured and devils cast out.

So, how are we to interpret this message in our own time and place? St Paul is at pains to let us know that we are adopted children of the Father, stamped with the seal of the Holy Spirit, chosen to live in freedom. It is a freedom which should enable us to take up our missionary role in the Church, but it is a freedom which can so easily be threatened in our sophisticated and technological world.

In every generation the Lord’s disciples are challenged to ensure that their lives are not cluttered with unnecessary baggage. But how do we live simply when we are constantly bombarded with the advertising that suggests that our lives will not be worth living without all the latest gadgets and inventions?

I would suggest that Pope Francis has shown us a wonderful way of living simply amidst all the splendour of the Vatican and he is not afraid to use modern means of communication. He has focused our attention on the joy of the gospel message and perhaps therein lies the secret. So, if we find ourselves weighed down, it may be time to free ourselves up again.

Timothy Buckley CSsR

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