Going Out To Help Others
Opening Question: Where are you going on vacation this summer? Whom will you see? Can you help them? How?
First Reading: Amos 7:12-15
Once there was a shepherd named Amos. He worked hard long days under the hot sun of the desert. He cared for flocks of sheep in the summer. In the winter, he trimmed tress. The little money he made barely paid for the food his family needed to survive. Life was not easy for Amos.
Amos did love God. He prayed every day and tried to listened to what God told him. One night, Amos heard the stories of an evil king and corrupt land owners to the north. His heart began to pound with anger. "The people who suffer under the king are our brothers!" Amos complained. "How can we help them?"
That night, Amos fell into heavy sleep. He dreamed about the things he heard. The suffering of the people who had the little they grew taken away from them. How the people starved while the land owners partied. It was too much for Amos to bear. Then, he felt a feeling of peace that could only come from God. And he knew what he had to do. He left his sheep and went north to preach to the king and the land owners at the temple in the north.
Night and day, Amos preached in the temple. But no one would listen finally, a priest complained:
"Why are you here? To make money? To make trouble? Go back to your school of prophets and leave us alone!"
(Read the First Reading)
God wanted Amos to talk to his people, to help them. Sometimes he sends us to help someone, even if we don't know who. Let us listen to God's voice.
Bridge Question: What vacations have been different? How will your vacation this summer be different than the others?
Gospel: Mark 6:7-13
Jesus gathered the Twelve together, began to send them away in pairs, and gave them power over evil.
"Don't take anything with you on your travels except a walking stick and a pair of sandals," Jesus told them. "You may not take food, a traveling bag, or money. And you may not wear any extra clothes. Wherever you go, stay with one family until you leave for another town. If the people don't treat you like a guest and refuse to listen to you, walk away and shake the dust from your feet to show them how you feel."
The Twelve left two-by-two. They preached so others could turn their lives back to God. They threw many demons out of people. And when the sick were anointed with oil by the traveling followers of Jesus, they were healed.
"Fasten your seat belts" the sign flashed. The jet moved to the runway and taxied to take off. Felix looked out his window from his seat as the jet lifted off the ground. The rush of the take off hit his stomach. Everything on the ground got a lot smaller very quickly. "Wow!" Felix thought. "This is my first jet ride. This is great!"
Felix turned his mother with a big smile. His mother returned the look with a glum frown. He remembered why this vacation was different. They were flying to see great-grandma. She was old and frail. She got sick a lot. Every time Felix heard his mother talk about great-grandma she was in the hospital. Felix even overheard his mother talk about the trip.
"This may be the last time we see her," his mother said on the phone to his uncle.
"This was a vacation, but it wasn't going to be much fun" Felix thought.
After a few hours, the jet landed. Felix and his mother rode out to great-grandma's farm. Cousins, aunts, and uncles were already there, setting up tents and other places for people to sleep. Felix didn't realize how big this family gathering would be.
That evening, everyone gathered for dinner. Tables were everywhere with people talking and laughing, sharing stories about family. Felix lost count of how many people were there. Just before the family said grace, Uncle George wheeled great-grandma out in a wheelchair. She was as old and frail as Felix imagined. But, the twinkle in her eyes and the smile on her face let everyone know she was happy to so many people. Uncle George led everyone in grace and a toast to great-grandma. The smiles and the cheers left everyone happy.
Over the next few days, Felix played in the barn, ran in the fields with his cousins, ate too much food and drank too much soda. He was having great fun. More important, he got to know his extended family and their stories. He even sat down to talk with his great-grandma. He sat with his full attention on great-grandma as she told story after story about growing up on the farm. She described life without television, radio, electricity, computers, or the internet. Those few days on the farm gave him an idea what life was like back when great-grandma grew up. He walked a little bit in her shoes.
The jet ride home was quiet. Neither Felix nor her mother said much. Both recalled the past several days with great-grandma and their relatives. And both were happy. They went to do some good for great-grandma. And they both returned with experiences and memories of a great vacation.
Like Felix and his mother, the twelve went out to do good for others. To preach the Good News. To throw demons out of people. To heal the sick. Like Felix and his mother, the good they did and the time they spent with others changed them. They stopped worrying about themselves so much and opened their hearts to care for others.
Final Reflection: Pray for others at home and on vacation. Try to do something nice for your family and for strangers. This will help you have a better vacation.