You are not an accident; your life is not just an event without a plan or direction. Your current situation is not the definition of who you are. If you look around, you could see the clouds (blue and white alike) hanging up there in the skies. You could also see the sun, the moon or the stars depending on where you are, and your time zone. What about the mountains, hills, oceans, rivers, streams, the flowers, and trees? You could see human beings and animals with their respective dispositions exuding life. Don’t forget that there would be a morning after the night just as one season goes before another.
The rhythm and dynamics of the universe indicate the presence of an expert planner, an unbeatable architect, and an author and finisher per excellence. The universe gives us an obvious idea that there is an eternal ordering of these things and events and someone is in charge. Forget the claims of the big bang theory (not the movie), which is the scientific explanation that the universe started about 13.7 billion years ago from the explosion from a single tiny super-force point.
God is the creator and maker of all things and not a sudden big bang. God created the world out of His irreprehensible will and purpose. Consequently, everything in the world exists for a divine purpose. In the Second Reading Today (Ephesians 1:3-14), St. Paul tells us among other things that God not only blessed us with every spiritual blessing, But He also chose us before the foundation of the world. This goes back to what God says in the book of Jeremiah (1:15), “before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born, I set you apart and appointed you a prophet to the nations.” In another place we read (Jer. 29:11), “for I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
The primary lesson from the Second Reading today and by extension, the other Readings is the fact of the divine will and purpose for us. The will and purpose of God include His destined love for us through which we gain adoption, redemption, forgiveness of our sins, and riches of His grace which he lavished upon us. However, we are required to respond to God’s purpose by proclaiming His glory and working towards our salvation which is the height of God’s purpose for our lives.
In the First Reading (Amos 7:12-15), we read about the distinction between human purpose and divine purpose in the ministry of two men. Amaziah was a priest at Bethel, and from his opening statement, he functions by proclaiming the praises of the king. Hence, his purpose lies in the royal courts. The presence of the prophet Amos made him uncomfortable because he saw a competition instead of a companion.
Amos, on the other hand, represents a typical example of an honest response to divine purpose. As he relates to Amaziah, he had no prophetic background. He was instead a shepherd and a dresser of the sycamore tree and was only responding to God’s purposeful design to proclaim His word among His people.
We could, from the narrative in the First Reading, ask ourselves where we belong; the camp of Amaziah or Amos? One is fulfilling the purpose of man, and the other is performing the divine purpose. We fulfill the purpose of man when we struggle to make impressions to get the approval of people especially those in authority. We attempt to achieve the purpose of man when we see competition instead of companionship in the work of God. On the other hand, we take the route of Amos, the divine purpose, when we rely on God for direction and proclaim His praises to His glory and for our sanctification.
In the Gospel Reading (Mark 6:7-13), our Lord Jesus Christ gives more clarity to divine purpose in the context of sending the twelve on their first apostolic work. During the commissioning, he asks them not to carry physical provisions except a walking stick and their sandals, why? First, God will provide for them (Gen. 22:8). For every divine purpose, there is a divine vision, and provision. In the journey of life, there is the need for us always to remember that God is marching with us and our human provisions could become prohibitions. Hence, the need for us to depend on God. St Paul would say to the Romans (8:28), we know that in all things God works for good with those who love him, those he has called according to His purpose.
The second part of the narrative urges them to go along with a walking stick and a pair of sandals. Walking stick would remind us of the staff of Moses. During the encounter at the burning bush, God asks Moses, “what do you have in your hand” (Exodus 4:2), and he says a stick and God says him to drop it on the ground and it turns to a serpent. God later asked him to take it by the tail, and it switches back to a stick. If we read further, we could see that the stick was instrumental to many wonders including creating a road through the red sea. When we think about how to go through the journey of life, we should remember what we have in our hands and use it; needless to ask what is in our hands because we have lots of potentials from God.
The sandals, on the other hand, disclose the readiness to execute the divine purpose (Eph. 6:15). Taking the sandals along is an indication of the willingness to walk the talk, wearing the sandals is an indication that we are ready to go any length and anywhere to proclaim His name. The sandals show that we have a platform to fulfill the divine purpose.
Life without purpose is a disaster. Unfortunately, most people search for their purpose in the wrong places. It is only in God that we can find the full expression of our purpose in life. There is also the need for us to understand that for every purpose there is a process. Joseph, for instance, had a divine purpose, to become a prime minister in Egypt and feed the people of God during the famine and to fulfill that purpose he had to pass through the process of hatred, rejection, and even imprisonment but he did not lose his “walking stick”; his dreams. He did not also forget his sandals, namely, his readiness to help others.
As we march into a new week, may we like the apostles be ready to go where God’s purpose leads us. May we rely more on divine provision more than the human dependences that could potentially lead us to deficiency. Have a lovely Sunday and a great week ahead.