Knock, knock!
Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
[Am 7:12-15. Ps 85:9-10, 11-12, 13-14. Eph 1:3-14. Mk 6:7-13.]

Who’s there?
Norma Lee.
Norma Lee who?
Normalee, I don’t go around knocking on doors, but do you want to buy a set of encyclopedias?

(Sorry for the bad joke!)

Well, I guess we don’t get too many of those encyclopedia guys knocking at the door anymore, but back when I was a kid, we had all kinds of people: There was the milkman and the bread man, there was the huckster in the summer who brought farm-fresh fruit and vegetables right up the street to us.
We had the bell of the ice cream trucks.
We had the Fuller Brush men, the Avon lady….

Now, I’m certain that some of those people were also a bother.
Unless you knew the “regulars” at the door—you really never knew just what kind of line you were going to get when you opened the door.

So now we come to the present: Who is at your door? The door to your heart? Well, today, among all of the emails and faxes, urgent letters and phone calls, along with the "Mom I need this," and "Dad I need that," ... In the midst of all the stuff of life, it is the disciples - knocking on your door!

We think that these men must have been very special men – and they were – in God’s eyes and after so many years, in our eyes, too – because we know the end of the story.
But who were they then?
Then – when Jesus called them?

They were just ordinary men – fishermen and a reformed tax collector, a revolutionary – and even the one who would betray Jesus.
These are men with all the humanity and all the faults and foibles of men.
And yet – Jesus chooses these guys to work in a most extraordinary way!

And look how he directs them on the journey: not even a change of clothes! No food, no money – and importantly, no sack. The sack or bag was a trademark of the travelling philosophers, and Jesus didn’t want his men confused with them!

Jesus sends them totally reliant on God and the hospitality of people. They are indeed on an extraordinary journey – like crossing on a tightrope with no net!

Yet, they go,
And they go without complete understanding of who it is who sends them.
How they must have been confused – knowing in a certain sense the “right-ness” of the task, but with minds still full of questions.

Who is this Jesus? The Twelve have been asking this all throughout Mark’s Gospel. Let’s just see what these men have seen and experienced so far:
They have heard Jesus teach with authority, like no other man.
He casts out demons.
He cures those who are ill or possessed.
He cleanses lepers, heals paralytics, restores withered hands, calms storms.
He calls the teachers to accountability.
He tells parables.
He even raises people from the dead!

And He is rejected by his hometown people.
Who IS this?

With all of these incredible experiences – and with the nagging questions in their minds,
these men in the dark who are looking at the greatest of lights
go on their way to knock on doors, so to speak—to knock on the doors of hearts.

Knock-knock – who’s there?
Just a regular guy with a message that the Kingdom of God is at hand.

How will we know this?

Well, these men have been given the authority of Jesus!

They can preach, and cast out demons ,and heal the sick.

This message that these regular guys carry is exactly the message of Jesus! The first spoken words of Jesus in Mark’s Gospel are these:
“This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

And these men were able to accomplish great things;
not because of themselves,
but because they were doing Jesus’ work.
They were doing the work of God – whether they understood it or not!

They had to know that it was good.
And yet...
the doubt remained in them all the way until the resurrection appearances.
They doubted until the resurrected Jesus Himself appeared to them.

Obviously, not everybody is going to believe them. In the first reading, Amos, at the door in Bethel, is told flatly to get out!
Amos tells us who he is: not a prophet –

Just another ordinary guy, called by God for an extraordinary task.

And we, in all of our ordinariness –we too are called and empowered by our Baptism to do the same thing.

So, then, how do we repent? That word "repent" is probably inadequate to express all of the meaning of what the original authors wrote in Greek: metanoia: change your mind, change your heart, turn again...“think again after” -

And when do we repent? After hearing the Good News.
After seeing the signs and wonders in our midst,
After looking with eyes fully opened to the possibilities that Jesus brings.
And if you are really looking for signs and wonders, you don’t have to look far – I like to think the evidence is overwhelming!
Peter tells us: Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks for a reason for our hope (1Pt 3:15).

People will not always believe us– the condition of the world gives testimony to that.
And yet...
the condition of the world also shows the result of those who have heard and who keep this Good News!

Look around!
Yes, we have examples in the saints: Mother our time! Saint Padre our time! Pope John Paul the our time!

But here at our parish, in our communities, people are proclaiming the Good News of the Gospel by what they say and do, by how they live their lives.

I was talking to someone a few days ago and in answering a question, she said, "Well, I was on the way to the nursing home to pray the Rosary with the residents."

The Kingdom of God is at hand in that!

Some dedicated people put time and talent and knowledge into the parish "Vacation Bible School"...
The kids there, afire with the love of God, raised over $700 for a children's fund.

The Kingdom of God is at hand in that!

Ordinary people - doing extraordinary things; doing the Work of God!

We hear: Knock, knock.
We get up and answer the door and hear this: “The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent.”
We think, – On Sunday afternoon while the game is on? How inconvenient!
And yet...
the knock is persistent – the kingdom is God is still at hand – long after that last beer and long after the team has closed the ninth inning.
The Kingdom is in the “already but not yet” stage – it is, quite simply, At hand!

How will you answer the knock? How will you turn again to receive the gifts of God?
Jesus tells us that for anyone who believes, it no longer has to be the way of the world.

It can be the way of that abundant life that will heal and transform us – if only we hear and answer that persistent knock-knock of God’s Good News at the doors of our hearts.