Tuesday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Amos 3:1-8; 4:11-12
Psalm 5:4b-6a, 6b-7, 8
In the first reading, the prophet Amos continues to relate God’s judgment upon the Northern Kingdom of Israel. The whole family of Israel is accused of oppression, robbery, and violence. For this, they will suffer invasion and plunder. The wealthy women of Samaria are judged for their oppression of the poor and for their indulgent lifestyle. For this they will be led into exile (Amos 4:1-3). The men of Israel are judged for their idolatrous worship at Bethel and Gilgal. For this they will suffer famine, drought, pestilence and agricultural ruin (Amos 4:4-13) (see T. Leclerc, Introduction to the Prophets, Paulist Pres, 132).
“Because Amos knew that spiritual lethargy derives from ritual without God’s word, he established himself at Bethel in order to preach where the community assembled for worship. From Amos, we hear not only God’s word but also the sound of his voice. [The Lord] roars like a lion (1:2; cf. 3:4,8)” (M. Duggan, The Consuming Fire, Ignatius Press, 248). The rich people of Israel have fallen into the hypocrisy of, on the one hand, celebrating elaborate rites at the sanctuary of Bethel, and, on the other, oppressing the poor and needy in the Kingdom.
Centuries later, Jesus will teach that: “if you are bringing your offering to the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar, go and be reconciled with your brother first, and then come back and present your offering” (Matthew 5:23-24). Saint John will echo this: If anyone says they love God, but hate their brother, they are a liar (see 1 John 4:20). The Great Commandment is twofold: love for God and love for neighbor.
God tried to bring Israel back and sent them Elijah, Elisha, Amos, and Hosea, but ultimately Israel rejected God’s word: “By rejecting the words of Amos (7:10-13) and by silencing other prophets (2:12), Israel demonstrates an unwillingness to hear the Lord. Amos perceives that the Lord will correct Israel precisely by giving in to her demand for silence: he will not speak to her for some time. In the near future, this materially prosperous land will experience a deep, pervasive famine, not for physical bread, but for hearing God’s word (8:11-12; cf. Dt 8:2). By her refusal to listen to the word of God, Israel is cultivating for herself unparalleled affliction” (M. Duggan, The Consuming Fire, Ignatius Press, 248).
The Gospel is an invitation to trust in God and in his Word: “I trust in the Lord; my soul trusts in his word”. The episode in the boat recalls the story of Jonah, when the sea was calmed only by throwing the reluctant prophet into the sea. Jesus, though, is greater than Jonah (Matthew 12:41). Jesus, the Son of God, has power over all creation, the winds and the sea.
The situation of the apostles reflects the situation of Israel and Judah before the coming of Jesus Christ. They cried out in the psalms and in their prayer: “Lord, save us! We are perishing”. It seemed like God was asleep and indifferent to their cry. However, the opposite is true: God was with his people all along. He prepared them to receive his Son who would save them not just from one storm or for a day, but from the enemy of death and grant them eternal life.
The situation of the apostles also reflects our own lives. We battle against the waves, against the temptations of the flesh, against the devil. And it can seem like we are about to perish, overcome by things too great for us to handle. Only when we turn to God, to Jesus Christ, who was there from the beginning, is peace restored. The exile of Israel in 721BC and of Judah in 586BC, were allowed by God, so that the people would turn back to him. They would call out to him and place their trust in him. God often allows trials in our lives in order to help us turn our hearts to him with renewed trust and love. God is a good Father and will give good things to his children who ask for them. God heard the cry of Israel and sent them a Savior; Christ heard the cry of the Apostles and saved them from the sea; God hears our cry and sends us his Holy Spirit to lead us back to Him through his only-begotten Son Jesus Christ.
Readers may contact Father Jason Mitchell at [email protected].