FROM A READING FOR JULY 15, 15TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
‘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...” — Eph 1:11


The world “Apostle” comes from the Greek word meaning “to send,” so the Apostle is literally “the sent one.” That meaning is very clear in Sunday’s Gospel (Mk 6:7-13), in which Jesus sends out the Twelve, two by two.

He has a mission for them: to preach repentance, drive out demons and heal the sick. Jesus also gives them instructions about where to stay (“Wherever you enter…stay there until you leave”) and what to bring (nothing but a walking stick).

Since we are not part of the Twelve, it is helpful to ask if people are still “sent” by God today. Are there present-day Apostles? Moreover, can a layperson be an Apostle?

The answer is given in St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians (Eph 1:3-14), the second reading, where he describes every one of us as blessed by God, chosen and destined for a divine purpose.

Not Blues Brothers

The reality, Paul says, is that you have already been chosen in baptism. If you are chosen by God, then you also have a mission: something He is sending you for in a personal way.

That mission is to be completed only by you, for God’s purposes and your happiness. It is not just priests and religious brothers and sisters who are sent (or the Blues Brothers, who claimed in a famous movie to be on “a mission from God”).

It is your calling to be a lay Apostle.

The first reading (Amos 7:12-15) gives a good example of this. Amos, the prophet to Israel in the ninth century BC, was a shepherd and a dresser of sycamores; we hear him describe himself as such. Those to whom Amos preached were driving him away, but Amos protested: He had been sent by God, and by God he would do what he had been asked.

Threefold mission

What, then, might God ask of a present-day lay Apostle? The mission is threefold, modeled on what Jesus tells the Twelve:

•  First, drive out demons. In baptism, we become temples of the Holy Spirit and God’s dwelling place. By our sins, we drive out God and open ourselves to unclean spirits and demonic influence.

Ask yourself where there is darkness in you: bad habits, addictions, unhealthy relationships, self-doubt, shame and self-hatred. Then, shine the light of Christ on that place of darkness by going to confession or speaking to a trained counselor.

Expose Satan, all his works and all his empty promises. Let Christ drive him out.

•  Second, listen to God and what God is asking you. The Twelve did not put one foot on the path until they had their instructions. We should do likewise.
God does not simply send you willy-nilly. Look at all the verbs that describe Jesus’ actions in this Gospel scene: He summoned, sent, gave authority and instructed them. The same is true in His relationship with us. Listen in prayer, at Mass and throughout the day for His directives.

•  Third, as a layperson, you can recognize your God-given gifts and use them. There are certain natural gifts that each person has that others may not: for example, a knack for hospitality, an outgoing personality or a facility for languages.

There are also supernatural gifts given to each person so that he or she can help others grow in holiness: for example, a strong faith, the gift of counsel or an ability to teach.

All of our gifts, whether natural or supernatural, come from God and are meant to be used and enjoyed. We do not need to apologize for being good at things, but we do need to take responsibility for using what we have been given to cooperate with God.

That is what Jesus tells His Apostles in the Gospel. It is equally true for us. God has equipped you for the mission. Prepare yourself interiorly, listen to His directives and go.