Homily for 11th July 2021

Posted on 13th July, 2021

15th Sunday Ordinary Time B



I’d like today to take a little look with you at the first reading. It concerns an ancient prophet, Amos. He lived at a time when there were more than enough prophets in the court of the King of Israel. They were kept and paid for by the king. Their task was not so much to pass on the Word of God to the people, but to convince them that the secret ambitions and policies of the king were in fact the will of God. If they wanted to keep their heads on their shoulders, the court prophets had to tell the people only what the king wanted. Amos challenged these corrupt prophets who turned against him. “Flee, away,” they said, “we want no more of your style of prophesying.”


Indeed, it was Amos alone who proclaimed the authentic message of God for the people. He saw that while, outwardly, Israel seemed to be thriving and healthy, inwardly it was stricken with a malignant cancer. For not only was it guilty of social injustices, it was also abandoning its call to be in a special relationship with Yahwe. There will be no more special privileges for this corrupt Israel, declares Amos, only disaster. “Behold the eyes of the Lord God are upon this sinful kingdom, and I will wipe it off the face of the earth”, he declares. God scorns those who try to bribe him by burning incense in the shrine at Bethel one day in the week, while on the other six days they defraud the poverty-stricken folk of the nation.


You may already be thinking like me that much of God’s message, as prophesied by Amos, could be applied to our own age. Amos criticised the inequalities amongst the people of that time of so much prosperity; the luxurious dwellings and life-style of the wealthy, their selfish and greedy exploitation of the poor, their lack of concern for justice, the way in which the courts were used to evade the law and perpetuate abuses.


In those days people displayed all the outward trappings of religion, but in their hearts there was no place for God. They would not listen to God’s call. And so it was that Israel slithered down the slope of its own destruction.  Is this not similar to our situation today?


When Jesus came, he too warned the people that if they did not repent and turn their hearts to God, their end was nigh. He wept over Jerusalem, because its people would not open their hearts to God. And only 40 years later, the city was destroyed and the temple with it, never again to be rebuilt.

In the Gospel, Jesus warns his missionaries that people will refuse to listen to them, just as he himself had been ignored; but their message could not be forced on the people. The disciples must give witness to their faith by what they do. If people do not accept their witness, they must simply move on.

Today, in this country and across Europe in general, we see how people have become disorientated, lost, turned in on their own little world of family and work.


For many people, life is losing its meaning beyond their immediate sentient relationships and their search for more wealth. We tend to seek immediate gratification, living-for ourselves, taking all that we can from our environment without thought for the less favoured or for future generations. Decisions are made for today, not for the long-term. The push for legalised Euthanasia and last week’s move in parliament to liberalise further the use of abortion seek to give us a insidious control on the decision of who lives and who dies. Our leaders now even suggest that it is acceptable that 10s of thousands fall sick and die as long as the economy is protected and the wealth of the rich and the owners grows.


We might say that we desperately need another Amos; even more so, another Christ.

Yet, the Christ is amongst us. He is here in our midst. He lives with us and in us. Is that not what we celebrate when our children make their first Holy Communion? Are we not celebrating our faith in the presence of Christ, even the presence of God, in the bread and wine of the Eucharist? When we have our children baptised, are we not saying, “Yes, I believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who lives with us and in our community. He is the light of my life. It is his way I would walk. We seek baptism for our children because we believe that God alone can save us from our weaknesses. We seek their baptism because we want to pass on our faith to them, so that they too may live in God’s love. To pass on the faith, brothers and sisters, we too must grow in faith, we must kindle the flame of faith in our hearts, by our prayer, by reading the scriptures, by playing an active part in the life of the community of disciples, by caring for the wounded and broken victim on the other side of the road.”


Christ is the good news who gives us hope and brings sense and direction to our lives. He leads us, by the gift of the Holy Spirit, into the service of the community and of society as a whole. Let us heed the call of Amos and follow him.



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