Amos, St. Paul, 12 Apostles, and Us: Essential Workers! 

What do you think we all have in common with Amos, St. Paul and the 12 Apostles? Well for starters, we are all called by God and are invited to share in the proclaiming of the Good News as best we can. The key ingredients that Jesus shared with the Apostles were determination and joy. He literally handed over the mission of salvation to His first followers and surely knew that what He experienced they too would probably be up against. Determination had to be at the core of their mission and obviously it had to be shared joyfully. He called them, blessed them, and sent them out to continue the mission that He started but was far from complete. Now let’s look at how Amos, St. Paul, the Apostles, and eventually ourselves, responded to their callings and this honor. 
   Amos was a shepherd and an arborist...he trimmed Sycamore trees for a living although the later profession was a seasonal job. In today’s world he would be considered an “essential worker” because he was responsible for producing meat, wool, and also piercing the small fig-like fruit of the Sycamores that was known as “the fig of the poor”. Neither of these professions qualified him to be a prophet of God and probably made him feel ill-suited for the job and very hesitant. Yet, God saw his potential and considered him to be one of His “essential workers’. Even though his first reaction was to hesitate, he accepted the Lord’s invitation and the challenge. 
   Then there is St. Paul who certainly went from ‘rags-to-riches’ in that he was totally transformed from being one of the greatest opponents to Jesus and His followers, to being one of the greatest crusaders for the Gospel way of life. Whereas Amos was filled with hesitation, Paul’s entire lifestyle was radically transformed by the power of God’s blessing him with so much to be thankful for. Today’s second reading emphasizes that we have been blessed “with all the spiritual blessings of heaven in Christ.” Over and over again Paul preached that the ‘power of the Cross’ was both the means of our salvation and the cause of our joy. Paul was truly a disciple who shared that everyone was blessed by God and will be called upon to share those blessings with others. Paul was an “essential worker” if there ever was one! 
    And then we must consider those original 12 Apostles whom Jesus handpicked to be His “essential workers” after He died and rose. His approach to them was both simple and overwhelming. He loved them and insisted that they love everyone equally…no matter where or who they met. It must have been His way of loving them that took the eventual sting out of being one of His followers. The levelling virtue was to be how His followers ‘loved on another.’ If they had a handle on being men who shared Christ's love, then they could be healers of peoples physical and spiritual ailments. The only qualification that was necessary was to appreciate that they were blessed with an abundance of love from the Lord himself. The essential characteristic of these “essential workers” had to be love. 
    And now we should see ourselves as included in this category of being Jesus’ ‘essential workers’. I appreciate the scripture that says: “Before the world was made, He chose us, chose us in Christ.” That’s an overwhelming statement that should shake us into the reality that God knows who will be called, blessed, and sent forth to be one of His Sons disciples. Put aside the hesitation, always be ready to be changed for His purposes, and accept the challenge with determination and joy. If He knows enough to call you and me, then we are already ‘pre-qualified” for the task at hand. 
                                                                                                                    Fr. Mike