“Seek me and live!” With this statement Amos sums up what is expected of Israel. The Talmud tells us that all 613 commandments are fulfilled with this prophetic summons from Amos. Though with every prophet there is a moral lesson that depends on the covenant God made with the People who were chosen to give the example to the other nations, the social and political issues were what Amos was inveighing against. He challenged both the Northern Kingdom under Uzziah and the Southern Kingdom under Jeroboam. Amos is the earliest of the literary prophets. He belonged to the eighth century B.C. and was rejected by both kings.
He depicts God as a roaring lion out of Zion (Jerusalem) calling out in a loud voice to return to God’s justice. This is always relational and deals with the individual’s relationship with God as well as the nation’s relationship. Even though Israel and Judah placed hope in the “Day of the Lord” which meant for them a false unconditional claim to the benefits of God as a chosen people. Amos proclaimed this to be rather a day of judgment upon the people rather than one of material benefits. “Amos proclaimed that to be a chosen people of God in the true meaning of that call was to have a sincere devotion to the will of God. “Of unequalled pathos is the prophet’s denunciation of a corrupt aristocracy and its merciless oppression of the poor under the guise of a hypocritical claim to a unique relationship with God.
Though foretelling destruction, his prophecy ends with a description of Israel’s latter day restoration.” (The Encyclopedia of the Jewish Religion, p.29). There is always the need to recall and re-enact the covenant of Moses and the Exodus event—which gave Israel true freedom, a land, and made them a nation of God’s chosen people.
In the Gospel of Matthew we have Jesus responding to a scribe and a disciple who are intent on following him more closely. The scene centers on individuals in contrast to what Amos was addressing to a more corporate situation involving the two kingdoms. These two must realize that the call is not easy. They would not even have a place to lay down their head just as Jesus had no place to rest each night as he ministered to others and preached the Kingdom of God. Being detached from their comfort and from their attachment to their family was also part of this call to be a true disciple of Jesus. The way of the cross overshadows the vocation of a disciple, but in choosing Jesus as the
center of one’s heart of loving and as light for the journey, there is the promise of the resurrection and eternal life. Amen.
Copyright 2012 Fr. Bertrand Buby
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