We cannot know whether we love God, although there may be strong reasons for thinking so, but there can be no doubt about whether or not we love our neighbor. -- ST. THERESE OF LISIEUX
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.
God minces no words. The leaders of Israel will be punished for trampling on the weak and the just. As they have crushed the needy, so now they face ruin.
Amos calls these crimes. Our words are softer. Predatory loans or long-term unemployment are problems discussed in polite tones. “What a mess” gets said of immigration policy while chewing the hamburgers that undocumented workers have made. The wars continue, but we have switched channels. We create systems like labyrinths that few understand where no one seems to be responsible for all that is lost. The urgency of people struggling to hang on goes mute. Without a fiery defender, those in greatest need disappear from the screen. Secure in our helplessness, we sit and sigh.
Like the prophet, Jesus sounds a thunderous wake-up call. His words are not balanced or discreet. No time remains to dally or debate. On the move in faith we enter the battle for the living. How we answer this call must arise from each one’s heart. But this is for sure: God wants us as combatants in the struggle to renew the world. There are no excuses or hiding places that can rescind this call.