Last week remember was the concept of a prophet at home and abroad. Today’s first reading is from Amos, where Amos is away from his home of Tekoa in Judah, prophesying in faraway Bethel in Israel. Ah, but no honor for him there, alas. The priest of Bethel kicks him out, sending him back to Judah, ordering him “never again prophesy in Bethel.” Amos replies that he was just minding his own business, not a prophet, when the Lord told him to go prophesy to the people of Israel. Amos is apparently the Rodney Dangerfield of prophets, getting no respect anywhere.
Amos says that he was a shepherd (minding his own business by minding his own sheep, you might say) and, more interesting, a dresser of sycamores. Whatever can that mean? He dresses up trees? Dresses them in like fancy costumes? Disguises them maybe?
A little research reveals a rather more mundane answer. The King James translates it as “a gatherer of sycamore fruit.”
The Gospel from St. Mark is the Lord sending the twelve out two by two and giving them authority over unclean spirits. Remember again, this time the concept of apostolic succession. Here’s where that all begins.
Again something jumps out at me, like maybe a tautology, where Jesus, when telling them to travel from town to town, says, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave.” It sounds funny at first. I mean, no matter what, if you stay someplace, you stay there until you leave. You can’t not stay somewhere until you leave.
But I guess it’s all part of travelling light, as the Lord tells them to do. He tells them that they can take a walking stick, but not food or money. Sandals are okay, but not a second tunic. I guess he means that if they find a place to stay, they are to stay there and preach locally. When they’ve worn out their welcome, when it’s time to go, don’t just find another house down the block. Leave the town and go to the next. As in, “Wherever [the city or town or village happens to be when] you enter a house, stay there [in that house] until you leave [that city or town or village].”
We have a guest homilist, a priest whose name I don’t understand. In fact, he’s French, but he grew up in South America, and now is a missionary in Hong Kong, so I don’t especially understand anything he says, between his accent(s) and the sound system. Certainly not his name. And I don’t understand it when Father Hurley says it either.