“Good and evil both increase at compound interest. That is why the little decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance. The smallest good act today is the capture of a strategic point from which, a few months later, you may be able to go on to victories you never dreamed of. An apparently trivial indulgence in lust or anger today is the loss of a ridge or railway line or bridgehead from which the enemy may launch an attack otherwise impossible.” ― C.S. Lewis: (1898 – 1963: was a British novelist, poet, & academic)
Scripture Text: (AM 2:6-10, 13-16)
Thus says the LORD:
For three crimes of Israel, and for four,
I will not revoke my word;
Because they sell the just man for silver,
and the poor man for a pair of sandals.
They trample the heads of the weak
into the dust of the earth,
and force the lowly out of the way.
Son and father go to the same prostitute,
profaning my holy name.
Upon garments taken in pledge
they recline beside any altar;
And the wine of those who have been fined
they drink in the house of their god.
Yet it was I who destroyed the Amorites before them,
who were as tall as the cedars,
and as strong as the oak trees.
I destroyed their fruit above,
and their roots beneath.
It was I who brought you up from the land of Egypt,
and who led you through the desert for forty years,
to occupy the land of the Amorites.
Beware, I will crush you into the ground
as a wagon crushes when laden with sheaves.
Flight shall perish from the swift,
and the strong man shall not retain his strength;
The warrior shall not save his life,
nor the bowman stand his ground;
The swift of foot shall not escape,
nor the horseman save his life.
And the most stouthearted of warriors
shall flee naked on that day, says the LORD.
Today’s first reading from Mass comes from Amos in the Old Testament. Amos was a common man from a little village who was powerfully used by God to remind the Jewish people to stay focused upon God who is ALWAYS with them. He points out that God is not only aware of their sins, but also that His people often tend to forget the many times God has forgiven them and delivered them from evil. Sadly, Amos also points out that righteous judgments and discipline are often the result of the choices made by His people.
It is so easy for us to fall into this same trap in the fast paced world we live in as did the people that Amos was addressing in the reading above. Are we really aware of God’s presence with us each hour of every day? Do our thoughts, words and actions really grasp that God is constantly beside us? I look at the horrible list of sins Amos mentioned and tend to think that I am really not that bad. But are my quick judgments, unkind thoughts & words, and my inability to see the needs of all those God has placed in my life any different? In reality, they are each simply a symptom of my inability to maintain my focus upon Jesus.
How is it that despite our best intentions at the start of each new day, we find it so difficult to maintain our focus upon our triune God? We follow worldly influences that we know will lead to pain and suffering and, exactly like the Jewish people of Amos’ time, forget all the times throughout our lives when God brought us through difficult times and blessed us in spite of our endless wandering and worrying.
Amos reminds us that each of us has the power to make a difference, to be used by God. As Jesus powerfully points out in Matthew 8, following Jesus must be our focus, every second of every day - above all else. That directive certainly makes sense for us today, as keeping our focus upon Him leads us to incredible peace and joy, well beyond anything we could possible imagine.