Immersed in Christ: June 29, 2020
Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles
Reflection is based on the scheduled ordinary time readings.
The Responsorial Psalm tells us that remembering is fundamental to Christian life and the “ministry of light”: “Remember this, you who never think of God” (Psalm 50).
In Amos 2: 6-16 (the book we read this week) the prophet urges the people to look at their present situation in the light of the past and the future. He calls them to confront what they are doing, to take an honest look at the reality of their lives.
Because their focus is on making money, they are not paying attention to how many people they are hurting. Like us, they affirm principles of justice and compassion, but their first priority is profit. If it comes to a choice between the economic good of the company — or of the institution they work for (including church institutions) or of the country as a whole — they will put profits over people. Their first loyalty is to company finances, not to employees who have served conscientiously and well: they will “sell out” the “virtuous man for silver.” To put the institution on a slightly better financial footing (not one necessary for survival) they will make decisions that take away jobs and require the poor to leave homes and family connections to relocate: they “sell the poor man for a pair of sandals,” imposing major hardships on others for minor benefits to themselves. They use their influence (in our society their vote) to favor the interests of the rich and powerful over the good of the general population: they “trample on the heads of ordinary people and push the poor out of their path.”
They justify this by arguing that making the rich richer does not make the poor poorer. Amos says, “Look back. See what this thinking has brought about in the past.” He points to the Amorites. We reflect on what brought about the French revolution, Communism and terrorism. To ignore the universal, all-embracing love that God teaches is to invite universal, all-encompassing disaster. “Remember this, you who never think of God.”
Jesus came to save our lives from all that diminishes them in this world and the next. But we must cooperate by ministering with him. Why do so few devote themselves to this?
In Matthew 8: 18-22 Jesus is up front about the potential cost of ministry. We must be prepared to sacrifice financial security, even the roof over our heads, and social acceptance, even going against the expectations of our families! “Leave the dead to bury their dead.” These are extreme examples, but Jesus is telling us to measure our appreciation of the goal by our acceptance of the price, even if we are never actually called to pay it. And reflect on the alternative.
Initiative: Be a priest. Put ministry to people first, whatever it costs.