Thus says the Lord: For three transgressions of Israel, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment; because they sell the righteous for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals— they who trample the head of the poor into the dust of the earth, and push the afflicted out of the way; father and son go in to the same girl, so that my holy name is profaned; they lay themselves down beside every altar on garments taken in pledge; and in the house of their God they drink wine bought with fines they imposed.
Yet I destroyed the Amorite before them, whose height was like the height of cedars, and who was as strong as oaks; I destroyed his fruit above, and his roots beneath. Also I brought you up out of the land of Egypt, and led you forty years in the wilderness, to possess the land of the Amorite. So, I will press you down in your place, just as a cart presses down when it is full of sheaves.
Flight shall perish from the swift, and the strong shall not retain their strength, nor shall the mighty save their lives; those who handle the bow shall not stand, and those who are swift of foot shall not save themselves, nor shall those who ride horses save their lives; and those who are stout of heart among the mighty shall flee away naked in that day, says the Lord.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
If you are anything like me, you are wont to “write off” the Old Testament readings with all of their fire and brimstone, gloom and doom, and burdensome lessons in genealogy and geography.
I much prefer to skip to Jesus – the more relevant and “textured” messenger, who, in today’s Gospel advises, “… Let the dead bury their dead.”
What is it about the likes of Amos that finds me so uncomfortable with the predictable directness of messages like his: “So, I will press you down in your place, just as a cart presses down when it is full of sheaves…”?
A slightly deeper dive into Amos’s context reveals that his harsh words were anything but predictable to his Israelite audience. After all, he had spent the better part of the preceding chapter buttering them up with his condemnations of various competing kingdoms – only to suddenly turn the tables on them.
Wait a second … why am I so quick to write off the likes of Amos when my preferred story of the always-subtle Jesus is the day when he lashes out at the money changers and suddenly… turns … the … tables?
—Corey Quinn is the president of De Smet Jesuit High School in St. Louis.
Teach Me Thy Path
Show, O Lord,
Thy ways to me,
and teach me Thy paths.
Direct me in Thy truth, and teach me;
For Thou art God my Saviour.
—St. Peter Faber, SJ