“Go, tell my people” by Fr Val Collier, Ireland

“Go, tell my people”                                                                                               Reflection for  15 Sunday

The message from the readings  today is a most important and powerful one. It is a message from God. It goes like this; “Go, tell my people”, that God has blessed us with special blessings from heaven as his people. This message was given many times and in many ways going back centuries before Christ. To day we hear it from Amos (First reading) who was working as a shepherd when the Lord called him. The Lord told him to go and talk to the people of Israel as a prophet, to remind them of their status as God’s people; and that they are called to live lives worthy of that calling, to be holy and just in all their ways.. In the second reading, St Paul reminds us again of how God chose us in Christ to be holy and spotless and to live lives that are loving, and that we, are adopted sons and daughters, children of God. Indeed we are truly blessed to be chosen and called to such a high status, and given the designation, children of God. That is why we need to pay attention to how we live our lives and why we need to repent when we fail to live up to our high calling. In the Gospel today we read how Jesus sent out the Apostles to preach that very message, to preach Repentance.

The words Repent, Repented, and repentance are mentioned 100 times in the Bible. In the Bible the word ‘Repent ‘ comes from the Greek word, Metanoia, which means a change of heart. This is what Repentance is about; changing our hearts and minds, which results in a change of actions. It is about looking into our hearts and changing the way we live our lives. Pope Francis has said that ‘if you don’t listen to the Lord, if you don’t accept correction and if you don’t trust him, your heart has not yet repented’.

Each one of us is unique. There is only one of me. God created each one of us to fulfil a certain purpose in life. He says, “I have come that you may have life and have it the full”. Each one of us must look within to find ourselves, to search and to seek what we are called to be and to do in life. We are meant to discover within ourselves the God-given beauty, the potential, the talents and gifts that we possess. We are meant to use these gifts, the talents to become full authentic human beings. In this way we manifest in our own unique way the goodness and the glory of God. That is God’s dream for us. And that is what our life’s journey is about.

Being human we often fall short in carrying out God’s plan for us. That is why it is important that we take time to stop every now and then to look into our hearts and minds and change what needs changing. This can mean making a big change or conversion in the way we live our lives. Sometimes people lose their way in life, like the prodigal son, or the lost sheep. God in his great goodness and mercy leaves the door open for them to return.

Recently a young man told me that for a time he had lost his faith. But he had had a conversion and has a deeper faith now than before. It was just great to hear his story. Jesus tells us that there is more joy in heaven over one repentant sinner, than over ninety-nine virtuous men who have no need of repentance (Lk. 15:7).

May our gracious God and Father bless us all as we strive daily to live up to our vocation.