Homily for June 30th, 2014: Amos 7: 10-17.
Should the Church get involved in politics? Many people say, ANo way. Religion and politics don=t mix.@ Others disagree. Whenever fundamental moral issues are at stake, these people maintain, the Church must get involved. Our first reading today introduces a religious figure who was severely condemned for involvement in politics. Like his countryman, Jesus, centuries later, Amos was a layman. God called Amos while he was still a shepherd and farmer, and commanded him: AGo, prophesy to my peopleAmos had no crystal ball to predict the future. Instead Amos, like all true prophets, was summoned summoned to speak Aa word of the Lord@ to the people of his day: to warn, to admonish, to rebuke, and to encourage. As a simple countryman, Amos was scandalized by his glimpses of city life during his visits to market. “They sell the just man for silver, and the poor man for a pair of sandals. They trample the heads of the weak … and force the lowly out of the way.” Without mincing his words, Amos pronounced his corrupt society ripe for God=s judgment.
If Amos were to come back today, what are some of the things he would denounce in our society and tell us we needed to repent of? One which was often mentioned by Pope St. John Paul II, and by his two successors, is consumerism: the false idea that we can buy happiness by amassing more and more possessions.
Something else which cries out for repentance is hedonism: the mindless philosophy that says, AIf it feels good, do it.@ Hedonism wrecks lives, relationships, and marriages, every day. We need to repent also of the hard-hearted selfishness which ignores the needs of the poor and oppressed in our midst; or which thinks that our obligation to them can be discharged by gifts to charity from our surplus goods, with no examination of unjust conditions in society that cause poverty and oppression.
That is a short though incomplete list of the things in today’s society that require repentance. Jesus speaks of this often in the gospels. And the repentance to which he summons us is not somewhere else, tomorrow. It is here, and it is now. And repentance begins not with someone else. If it is to begin at all, repentance must begin with ourselves.