September 11, 2019
The portrayal of the prophet Amos that we read in the first reading is a person filled with anger. This anger when understood and put in context appears to be justified. Amos finds that those who are in privileged positions in society are claiming all the wealth of land and possessions and exploiting the poor in obtaining this wealth. The result of these actions is him experiencing human suffering. Those who are the weakest and most vulnerable are suffering at the expense of the most powerful. Amos’ anger is a signal to the powerful and wealthy that God is one that has compassion for those that are poor.
Amos’ message is one that is needed today as well just as it was needed in his time. Our world continues to experience an unequal distribution of wealth among nations and even groups of people within societies. Sometimes it’s easy for each of us who have been blessed with an abundance to first, take for granted what we have been given and second, to hoard our possessions for ourselves. Regardless of how much we have, we want more and expend our energy on attaining this wealth. The result often is that those who do not have enough are forgotten and neglected. Jesus emphasized that reality in the gospel when he said: “No one can serve two masters. You either hate the one and love the other.” The manager in the gospel came to realize that his actions of dishonesty because of greed were affecting the lives of those for whom he was responsible to support. He was able to take that step in recognizing their plight and suffering and sought to relieve the burden of debt that his actions had incurred.
The invitation for ourselves is to first come to deepen our relationship with Christ, the face of God who emptied himself of all earthly riches, privilege and position through embracing suffering on the cross. It is this sacrifice to which we have been relieved of the burden of our sin and suffering by being given the pledge of forgiveness and mercy. From this gratitude flows from our hearts the gratitude for what we have been given in our lives; our possessions; opportunities to use our gifts; our health; our relationships; faith; knowledge; ability to love and care for others. These are gifts from God. When we acknowledge them as gifts, then our actions are directed toward being responsible with them by responding to those who lack them. It is in reaching out to others that we share the sacrifice that Christ offered for us and our hearts are moved to relive the story of the suffering Christ in the suffering of those around us.