The prophet Amos went fromtending sheep to proclaiming the Day of the Lord. He pointed out the evilpractices of the neighbors of Israel in the 8th century B.C. andproceeded to criticize Israel itself. He revealed some of the visions the Lordhad granted him as a warning to the Chosen People. In closing, he promisesrestoration and peace, as the Lord wants to bring his people home.
Through baptism, we are allcalled to be priests, prophets and kings. Amos shows us what it means to be aprophet. Like him, this title startles us and we have a tendency to reject it.“I am not a prophet.” (7:14) This could remind us of Charles Barkley’s famousquote, “I am not a role model.” But what Amos is saying is merely that he doesnot belong to one of the prophetic groups and does not have something to gainby his doomsday prophecies in the Northern Kingdom. We are all called to beprophetic in our own lives.
The prophet interprets the past,judges the present and gives some indication about the future, according to theWord of God that resides in his heart. Amos reveals this attitude in 3:8, “TheLord has spoken: who will not prophesy?” Although he would deny his own role asa prophet, he cannot deny that he has a special mission from God to proclaimtruth to his contemporaries. Called from the Southern Kingdom, he has to gonorth to try to convert the inhabitants of the Northern Kingdom from their evilways. Their idolatry and abuse of the poor is repugnant to him. He upbraidstheir social injustice, referring to those who “have sold the upright forsilver and the poor for a pair of sandals.” (2:6)
Amos is aware of the problems ofhis time, but does not make an empty criticism. Rather, he applies the messageof God to his own situation. He calls Israel away from injustice and idolatryin order to be faithful to the Lord and worship him correctly.
Amos speaks about the terriblereality of sin. He says it is like someone running away from a bear into hisown house. He thinks he is safe and rests against the wall. Then, to hishorror, he is bitten by a snake. How often is this the case of the Christianwho tries to rely on his own strength to avoid sin, only to find himselfsurprised from a direction he was not watching?
Amos is not self-righteous, butis faithful in handing on to the people the message calling for righteousnessfrom the Lord. He does not present himself as the model of justice, butcondemns the injustice he sees since it does not correspond to the goodness ofthe Lord, whom he knows. His love for justice takes him far away from home andgives him the courage to face dangers and hostilities. By staying firm in hisprinciples, he warns the Kingdom of its impending doom and leaves us a smalltreasury of spiritual wisdom, which still helps us today.
Questions or comments? Please, write to Fr. Nathan Miller, at [email protected]
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