BY: Fr. Evaristus Abu



“For three transgressions of Israel, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment; because they sell the righteous for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals.” Amos 2:6

Our first reading today comes from the prophet Amos who may rightly be called the prophet of Social Justice. Amos speaks straight to the conscience of the people reminding them of the weight of their sins; their immorality, their lack of charity for the afflicted and their idolatry.

In a capitalist society like ours, it is so easy for us to fall into the temptation of turning money into a god. When that happens, people are no longer treated like humans but as things that could be bought, sold and exchanged for money and other favours.

Not too long ago, I heard a voice clip by a young man who left this country with hopes of greener pasture only to end up being deceived by human traffickers. He narrated the painful ordeals of how human beings were being bought and sold like furniture. Just as it happened in the time of Amos, it is happening before our eyes.

One way we could examine our hearts to find out our level of guilt with regard to the poor is by doing this little exercise. Take a paper and biro and time yourself. Within ten minutes, write down the names of the wealthiest persons in your town. Now, in another ten minutes, write down the names of persons within your neighbourhood who do not know where their next meal would come from.

If within ten minutes, you get more names on the rich side than the poor side, then know that you are very guilty. When last did you consciously decide to seek out the poor just to help them? Do you consider the poor as a nuisance; a disturbance or just dirt that need to be taken out of your sight?

Coming down to our Gospel passage, we discover that Jesus is not ashamed to be associated with a state poverty. To the scribe who opted to follow him, Jesus said: “Foxes have holes, birds have nests but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” It was necessary for Jesus to explain to the scribe the level of difficulty involved in ministry and the absolute necessity of detachment from the things of this world.

It is an irony that many today are attracted to the ministry for very wrong reasons. Many see God’s work as a life of luxury, a career just like any other and an opportunity for material prosperity. It is even a greater irony that a life of poverty quickly becomes a life of endless pursuit of riches whereby even the minister is just as guilty as those Amos condemned in our first reading today.

Just yesterday, I read about a so-called pastor who was arrested for selling tickets to heaven. Such an act can best be described as the height of the exploitation of the poor who have been so brainwashed into believing anything said in the name of God. Come to think of it, what is the difference between those who sold the poor for a pair of sandals in the time of Amos and he who is selling tickets to heaven today?

Without an underlining spirit of poverty, there is just no authenticity in ministry. The so-called Man or Woman of God who is living in affluence (or aspires for such) is a contradiction of the life of the Master Jesus. Even when we receive gifts from the rich, it is not for us to become rich ourselves but to become a link between the rich and the poor; an avenue; a channel for the flow of this world’s goods from the haves to the have-nots. When this channel is blocked, we become rogues, we lose a sense of our calling and begin to engage in material competition with the rich.

Following Jesus or becoming a minister is not and can never be a career. It is basically a life of sacrifice. To the disciple Jesus called, Jesus told him to leave the dead to bury their own dead. This simply means one cannot combine the work of ministry with the task of meeting up with family responsibilities. Unless this is properly understood, there is a real danger of turning God’s work into a money-making enterprise which has, unfortunately, become the order of the day today.

Let us Pray: Lord Jesus, give me a heart that is soft enough to remember those who cannot afford what I waste daily. Amen.

*Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Monday of the 13th week in Ordinary Time. Bible Study: Amos 2:13-24, Psalm 50:16-23, Matthew 8:18-22).

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