Am 7:10-17; Ps 19:8-11; Mt 9:1-8
The law of the LORD is perfect, trustworthy, right, true, and just. The Torah contains refreshment, wisdom, rejoicing, enlightenment and all sweetness. Everyone who seeks the LORD learns how to fear the LORD through obedience to His Word. As King David learned the hard way, the commands of the LORD are more precious than gold, than a heap of the purest gold. Indeed, there are some things that we must learn the hard way. The Prophets of God, those who spoke the truth in season and out of season, when people wanted to hear it and when they didn’t want to hear it, taught the most difficult lessons to us. Even the Lord Jesus received resistance when he offered a new teaching on the forgiveness of sins. Just when the world is telling us that the church has nothing to say about human behavior or attitudes, or it never had any influence on the formation of Western Civilization, this is when Psalm 19 challenges us as the Responsorial Psalm after our reading from the book of the Prophet Amos. Indeed, we are challenged to learn about all the judgments of the LORD so that we can taste and see that the LORD is Good! Indeed, the LORD is sweeter than syrup or honey from the comb.
Amos was not a professional prophet. He did not belong to a school of prophets. He earned his living by tending the sheep and dressing the sycamores. Amos was a simple man and he learned wisdom from the Word of the LORD. He listened closely to the word he preached and learned deeply of the LORD’s ways. The priest Amaziah reported this new prophet to his king, Jeroboam. Amaziah wanted the king to know that he had nothing to do with this dangerous prophet. Even though he started preaching in the temple at Bethel, Amaziah wanted the king to know that he was not in agreement or approval of this prophet’s preaching. Amos was not welcome at the royal temple in Bethel. His preaching was considered poison to the people of Israel. Amos spoke a word out of season and quite unwelcome. He warned the rebellious tribes of the north that they would soon be exiles and the king was about to die by the sword. Such truth was too much for the priests and the people. They would not change their ways. They were not interested in modifying their lifestyles. When Amos was rejected and condemned by the priest, their was a personal prophecy for him and his family: “your wife shall be made a harlot in the city, and your sons and daughters shall fall by the sword.” Indeed, Israel as a nation was divided by the divine measuring line and found wanting. They had to be exiled far from its land. When we hear such challenging prophecies, what do we do? Are we not all too ready to attack the character of the prophet and to discredit his preaching?
We who walk in the presence of the Lord, in the land of the living, have been raised up from the paralysis of sin and death. Those who love us have brought us to the Lord Jesus, and he admires such an act of faith. We take courage that our sins are forgiven. We believe in the One sent by the Father. We do not accuse him of blasphemy–as if Jesus would ever try to usurp the authority of God. We know that this authority to forgive sins and to heal lives is the undeserved gift of the Father in the life, preaching, ministry, death and resurrection of His Only Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. He still reaches out to raise us up here in the Eucharist. From here we go home, to raise up the paralyzed by the power of Christ, who lives in us. We go out from liturgy with renewed hope in the healing power of the Lord Jesus, who summons us to move into ministry from the forgiveness of sins and the paralysis that sin brings. Like Amos and all the true prophets of Israel we have not lived within the fame of a great school of healers, but we have all been taught in the school of holiness. From the liturgy we dare to move into life with complete confidence. Indeed, we know full well that without his power we can renew the face of the earth.