Select Sunday>Sunday Web Site Home>Spiritual Reflections>Spirituality of the Readings

Spirituality of the Readings
Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
July 15, 2012

Reading I: Amos 7:12-15
Responsorial Psalm: 85:9-10, 11-12, 13-14
Reading II: Ephesians 1:3-14 or Ephesians 1:3-10
Gospel: Mark 6:7-13


I was driving someplace—I can’t remember where—the weather was good, the city had its usual non-countryside and somewhat ruined appearance, and I was doing shopping chores. Suddenly, simple gratitude came upon me. Not earth-shaking, not the result of complicated reasoning, just a modest, gentle joy. I looked in admiration at my hands, which work reasonably well. I thought of the friends in my life, the special ones.

Without being told to, my lips formed the words “thank you” to God.

I found that I wanted to give to God in return instead of just luxuriating. It was easy to realize this. My very quiet event led me to this conclusion: “the primary motivation for giving is gratitude.” My gratitude did not stop with itself, it was a springboard to giving back.

Another example: I have wide-set eyes. I have never been able to look at the same time through both lenses of any set of binoculars since I was a boy. For years my brother had set his mind to solving this problem. He would come up with results that almost worked but never quite. Miraculously, as I was writing this very reflection, a birthday present came in the mail. You guessed it, a set of binoculars.

But don’t get excited, these did not fit either. I could look out of one lens or the other, but not both. Hoping against hope I wrestled with widening the distance between the arms. It got complicated. By accident I narrowed the distance instead of widening it. Suddenly I could see with both eyes! These binoculars at their widest were too broad for my big head!!!! With them narrowed I can see through both lenses, and that means seeing in 3D as well!

I love the binoculars, of course, but more, I imagine my brother sending them to me, his face holding back a grin. I am grateful to him and for him. It is that gratitude that makes me want to do something for him in return.

Put simply, “the primary motivation for giving is gratitude.”

In the First Reading, Amos the prophet, who was a shepherd and “dresser of sycamores” found that God wanted him for a new job. No more following the flock, no more pruning trees, now he was to be a visionary, someone who would prophesy to the people. Shocking. Amos dropped everything and went off to Bethel (about 10 miles North of Jerusalem) where he preached fire and brimstone against the way of life he saw. The priest of Bethel threw him out of the city, but get this, he went south to Judah and continued to sermonize.

Why did Amos respond so boldly?

Perhaps his prior quiet time in the fierce landscape of his country had filled him and had let God give to him. Maybe he was ready to give back to God the giver.

Same thing for the apostles in the Gospel. Maybe they weren’t conscious of their gratitude to Jesus, active men that they were. But they had a growing realization of what he was giving them, and they loved him more and more. So when he sent them out to preach and to banish demons, they knew that the mission fit them. Suddenly they could see with both eyes.

You too. Keep both your eyes open. You are very much loved.

And ready to be sent.


Fr. John Foley, S. J.

Fr. John Foley, S. J. is a composer and scholar at
Saint Louis University.

You are invited to email a note to the author of this reflection.

Copyright © 2012, John B. Foley, S.J.
All rights reserved.
Permission is hereby granted to reproduce for personal or parish use.

Art by Martin Erspamer, O.S.B.
from Religious Clip Art for the Liturgical Year (A, B, and C).
Used by permission of Liturgy Training Publications. This art may be reproduced only by parishes who purchase the collection in book or CD-ROM form. For more information go to: