What did Amos do that was so wrong he gets kicked out of the region? Wrong question. Rather, what did Amos do right . . . that made the Israelites, and their king feel so uncomfortable and threatened? Answer: he warned the Israelites, many of whom were living quite prosperously, that they would be severely punished for their mistreatment of the poor.
So, Amaziah, priest of the royal establishment, confronted Amos and told him to leave. No more prophesying here. Your doom and gloom is not welcome because it makes the king and the rich people uncomfortable.
But Amos simply said no: I was a shepherd, but then God called me to prophesy to the people of Israel. How can I not respond to God’s call?
How can I not respond to God’s call? That’s a key theme in our readings today, and one we really need to pay attention to at this point in time.
God called Amos to proclaim a tough message. Amos responded. Paul reminded the Christians in Ephesus that God had blessed them and called them to holy lives. The Ephesians responded by building up the body of Christ among the Gentiles (non-Jews). And, as we just heard in our gospel, the twelve were called and sent. They each responded and healed many.
As you know, we spent three years exploring this notion of calling, as we participated the “Creating a Culture of Calling” initiative. We learned some very important things about God’s call and our response:
This isn’t new material for us as individuals. So, I want to take it a step further and see if these points hold true for us as a community as well. As a parish community, we are certainly at a crossroads that present several challenges:
But more importantly, amidst these challenges, what is our call now, and how will we respond? Let’s go back the four learnings about calling and see how they apply to us as a community.
1. Just like individual persons, God calls ordinary parishes to do extraordinary things. As Fr. Schwab pointed out last week, that’s just what this community has been doing for more than 100 years. So, of course we can navigate these crossroads challenges in front of us.
So, what do we say to ourselves? We got this. It’s ours to do. It’s in our DNA.
2. Just like individual persons, God calls St. Charles Parish to align the things we do with the things that God is doing. At that intersection is where we find vitality, hope, and true purpose. The Holy Spirit is just as active as she’s always been. Are we tuned in to her creativity? Pay close attention to the new encounters you have in the coming weeks—say with Fr. Holden or with parents or with youth or with faculty from De La Salle.
So, what do we say to ourselves? Let’s not be afraid to lean into those encounters and see where they us.
3. Just like individual persons, the call for St. Charles lies right here, right now, in our midst. An adage I learned years ago, applies to us at this moment: “How you say good-bye is how you say hello.”
Amidst our sadness and trepidation, we need to bid farewell to El with a sense of sincere gratitude, optimistic hope, and true joy, for then that is just how we will welcome and receive Fr. Holden and set him up well to be the priest pastoral leader we need.
Amidst our frustrations over parking woes and construction chaos, we need to bid farewell to our campus of a bygone era, for only then can we truly welcome and embrace members of the De La Salle community. I ask you to do the same thing I asked members of the Liturgy Committee to do. When you come to mass, when you come to church for any reason, imagine you are a parent of a DLS student checking out the parish, and look at your experience through those eyes. And then let’s talk about what needs changing.
So, what do we say to ourselves? How you say good-bye is how you say hello.
4. Just like individual persons, God calls St. Charles over and over and over again. These are the calls in front of us today, and we embrace them because, with God’s help, we have conquered other challenges in the past, and there will surely be others in our future.
So, what do we say to ourselves? The Holy Spirit isn’t going anywhere. She is right here, right now.
In the big picture, God’s plan is the same for us all: to live and work for the sake of God’s mission in the world. But inside that mission, there is infinite room to explore. It’s not like there’s a single plan that God has set for us, and we must read God’s mind to figure it out. No. Rather, we have the ability and opportunity to engage in dialogue with God and each other to create our plan, to set our course, and dive into it with purpose, trust, and joy. It’s not detective work, it’s creative work.
Moving forward, we just need to remember:
We got this.
Lean into our new encounters.
The Holy Spirit isn’t going anywhere.
How you say good-bye is how you say hello.