Year C: 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time
First Reading: Amos 8: 4-7
Amos was a prophet at a time when Israel was prospering.
He did not particularly want to be a prophet - he had been quite happy as a herdsman and certainly did not want to confront priests and leaders with unpleasant truths. The truths he was addressing stemmed from the fact that the rich were conveniently forgetting the parts of the Law that spoke of social justice and generosity to the poor.
Among the many detailed laws given in Books like Leviticus, are laws governing trade and fair dealing. Amos uses these to show the hypocrisy of the rich. Yes, he says, you honour festivals - but you disobey the teaching about how to deal with the poor. You give short measures - and you tamper with the scales - and take even the sweepings of the wheat which were supposed to be left for the poor to gather in order that they could eat.
The examples that Amos uses are unfamiliar to us - but the attitude is not. If Amos was around today, he would still see the same attitude among many rich people. They are often in positions of power and can arrange affairs to their advantage without taking any account of how this will affect those who are already poor. It happens in the best of countries which do make some provision for the poor and marginalised. When it happens in countries where corruption is rife, the poor stand little chance of getting justice.
It seems strange to be hearing the words of a man who lived 2500 years ago - and know that, with a few changes of detail, he could be speaking about the world we live in today.
Cafod and other agencies are calling us to look again at our dealings with poorer countries and to see how we are - perhaps unknowingly - the rich people that Amos is warning. Our wealth is often gained by making others poorer...
What does it mean for me?
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