Summary: There are prophets in every age speaking for God. In our age Pope Benedict has called us to look at Charity in Truth, and consider our responsibilities to the world economically.

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Fifteenth Sunday in Course

The Prophet

July 12, 2009

All over the temperate zone, fruit from the varieties of fig and sycamore are ripening now, and so the Church gives us a reading from the migrant worker, Amos, the reluctant prophet. I call him a migrant worker because he engaged in seasonal labor–dressing and harvesting the sycamore figs in one season, and tending sheep in another. Amaziah, the priest in the illegitimate sanctuary of Bethel, didn’t like Amos hanging around prophesying against the great king Jeroboam. The second king of Israel–remember they had split from the legitimate house of David hundreds of years earlier–Jeroboam had expanded the kingdom and brought a great forty-year economic revival to the wealthy. They bought ivory beds and lay around listening to popular music. They bought high-priced cosmetics and made the priests rich with offerings. But they were full of corruption, swearing by false prosperity gods and cheating the poor, building their Mcmansions on land they stole from their workers. They inflated the currency to pay for their crimes and so impoverished those living on fixed incomes. So Amos listened to the Spirit of the Lord and spoke the truth. Amaziah and Jeroboam, instead of repenting their sins and turning back to the right path, tried to chase Amos out of their territory. But Amos had been right. The sins of the Israelis caught up with them, and within twenty-five years, they were invaded twice and destroyed by the Assyrians.

There is no free ride to glory for those of us who have been blessed in Christ with every spiritual gift. In fact, more is expected of us than of the pre-Christian Israelites. We who have hoped in Christ are destined and commissioned to live, as Paul taught, for the praise of God’s glory. There is a kind of perfection of humanity in living to praise our Father. That’s why just before the Gospel, the Church has developed in its chant a wonderful extension of the Gospel Acclamation Alleluia called the jubilus, sung on the syllable Ja, which is the shortened version of the name of God. Today’s is a short one–the jubilus is thirty-one notes long, and I wish you could hear it.

That’s what God has called us to do–we are most human when we are fulfilling our destiny and living daily a life of praise. That is the proper response for those who have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and have believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, which is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

This is not a reality we can sit on, either. The Church is, by divine direction, a missionary Church. We are called to love effectively, and part of that involves witnessing by our lives and words the mercy of God who calls us to Christ. This is not a calling limited to the Twelve, or to the bishops or priests or deacons or religious. It is a calling to all of us. Do we show love to our extended families by refusing to discuss the two most important areas of life–politics and religion? Not very well. Do our coworkers know we are Catholics, and do they believe it from our words and actions?

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