“Go home.” These can be tough words for foreign missionaries and sometimes people can bluntly tell us to go back to where we came from. Such words can be said when what we say embarrasses or annoys those in authority. Like the words of Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, who says to the prophet Amos [Amos 7:12-15], “Go back to your homeland of Judah and do your prophesying there because you are upsetting our king.” Amos says in reply, “I would be quite happy to go back to the hill country of Judah and do what I was brought up to do, to look after sheep. But I believe that the Lord called me to be a prophet and to come here to Bethel and speak out against the injustices being done here in the northern kingdom.”
These words relate to Paul’s reflections in his letter to the Ephesians (1:3-14) where he says that God’s choice can be a puzzle at the best of times. Why Amos? Why me? You may think that the Lord could have made a better choice. But sometimes it can be the most unlikely of people, like the twelve apostles whom Jesus chose, who are told, as we see in Mark 6:7-13, “Just go as you are. Don’t try to impress people. Just be yourselves. If people don’t like what they see or hear, just move on. Shake the dust from your feet as a sign to them that it was their choice not to listen, not to be part of this new movement that gives witness to God’s loving presence in our world.”
Let us pray, not just for foreign missionaries, but for all of us, for we are each called to continue the mission of Jesus, whether we come from the back-blocks or the towns, whether we are shepherds or tent-makers, whether we are eloquent or struggle to find the right words to say. We are each called in mysterious ways to be prophetic missionaries. We pray that we can be true to our calling to live out what it means to be followers of Jesus and to speak out against injustices even when we are knocked back and told to “clear off” or “go home.”
The prophet Amos and the early disciples were the most unlikely of people to be chosen to be prophetic Missionaries. They came from very humble backgrounds. Somehow, they felt drawn by the invitation of Jesus. They encountered many obstacles along the way but they remained faithful. In these very changing times may we too remain faithful to our call to be faithful missionaries.