Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Do These Pants Make Me Look Fat?




Most people will do 1 of two things when faced with this or a similar question.

 1.     They will change the subject.
     “I love the color. Is that periwinkle, or is it lavender?” 

2.     They will tell us what we want to hear.
    “Oh no, Bruce. It makes you look like you have the powerful legs of a gold medal       speed-skater.” 

A small percentage of people will respond truthfully.   A select few will speak the truth with accuracy and kindness.  The prophets are the biblical version of these rare truth-tellers.

In today’s first reading Amaziah, a priest of the temple accuses the prophet Amos of stirring up trouble to earn money.  Amos has been telling the people of Israel, “Those pants make you look fat.“ Actually, he’s saying that God is displeased with His chosen, yet misguided people. Amos has been given three visions of ways in which God will punish Israel.  At the prophet’s beseeching God relents from sending swarms of locusts or rain of fire on the people.

The following overview from the U.S.C.B. website is helpful in understanding the timeless message of the Book of Amos.  (The numbers refer to chapters and verses within the book.)

Amos’s message stands as one of the most powerful voices ever to challenge hypocrisy and injustice. He boldly indicts kings, priests, and leaders (6:1; 7:9, 16–17). He stresses the importance and the divine origin of the prophetic word (3:3–8); one must either heed that word in its entirety or suffer its disappearance (8:11–12). Religion without justice is an affront to the God of Israel and, far from appeasing God, can only provoke divine wrath (5:21–27; 8:4–10). The Lord is not some petty national god but the sovereign creator of the cosmos (4:13; 5:8; 9:5–6). Amos alludes to historical forces at work through which God would exercise judgment on Israel (6:14). Several times he mentions deportation as the fate that awaits the people and their corrupt leaders (4:3; 5:5, 27; 7:17), a standard tactic of Assyrian foreign policy during this period. Through the prophetic word and various natural disasters (4:6–12) the Lord has tried to bring Israel to repentance, but to no avail. Israel’s rebelliousness has exhausted the divine patience and the destruction of Israel as a nation and as God’s people is inevitable (2:4, 13–16; 7:8–9). As it is presented in this book, Amos’s message is one of almost unrelieved gloom (but see 5:14–15). A later appendix (9:11–15), however, ends the book on a hopeful note, looking beyond the judgment that had already taken place in fulfillment of Amos’s word. 

For the past 3 weekends we have been sent from liturgy singing “When Jesus Went to Egypt.” The text was written by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette to “remember the Holy Family's flight into Egypt and the threat of separation for immigrant families today in the United States.”

To read the Catholic Church’s position on immigration reform go to http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/immigration/catholic-teaching-on-immigration-and-the-movement-of-peoples.cfm 

Despite having chosen the hymn and sung it several times over the past two weekends, I continue to be troubled by the words I sing.  They are neither sweet in my mouth (see Ezekiel 3:3) nor lukewarm (see Revelation 3:16). Nonetheless, I sing them knowing that as the grandson of immigrants and a baptized Christian I am called to speak for the silenced, advocate for the oppressed and make room for the displaced.


Do these pants make me look fat?

Most people will do 1 of two things when faced with this or a similar question.

1.     They will change the subject.
“I love the color. Is that periwinkle, or is it lavender?”

2.     They will tell us what we want to hear.
“Oh no, Bruce. It makes you look like you have the powerful legs of a gold medal speed-skater.”

A small percentage of people will respond truthfully.   A select few will speak the truth with accuracy and kindness.  The prophets are the biblical version of these rare truth-tellers.

In today’s first reading Amaziah, a priest of the temple accuses the prophet Amos of stirring up trouble to earn money.  Amos has been telling the people of Israel, “Those pants make you look fat.“ Actually, he’s saying that God is displeased with His chosen, yet misguided people. Amos has been given three visions of ways in which God will punish Israel.  At the prophet’s beseeching God relents from sending swarms of locusts or rain of fire on the people.

The following overview from the U.S.C.B. website is helpful in understanding the timeless message of the Book of Amos.  (The numbers refer to chapters and verses within the book.)

Amos’s message stands as one of the most powerful voices ever to challenge hypocrisy and injustice. He boldly indicts kings, priests, and leaders (6:1; 7:9, 16–17). He stresses the importance and the divine origin of the prophetic word (3:3–8); one must either heed that word in its entirety or suffer its disappearance (8:11–12).

Religion without justice is an affront to the God of Israel and, far from appeasing God, can only provoke divine wrath (5:21–27; 8:4–10). The Lord is not some petty national god but the sovereign creator of the cosmos (4:13; 5:8; 9:5–6). Amos alludes to historical forces at work through which God would exercise judgment on Israel (6:14).

Several times he mentions deportation as the fate that awaits the people and their corrupt leaders (4:3; 5:5, 27; 7:17), a standard tactic of Assyrian foreign policy during this period. Through the prophetic word and various natural disasters (4:6–12) the Lord has tried to bring Israel to repentance, but to no avail. Israel’s rebelliousness has exhausted the divine patience and the destruction of Israel as a nation and as God’s people is inevitable (2:4, 13–16; 7:8–9). As it is presented in this book, Amos’s message is one of almost unrelieved gloom (but see 5:14–15). A later appendix (9:11–15), however, ends the book on a hopeful note, looking beyond the judgment that had already taken place in fulfillment of Amos’s word.

For the past 3 weekends we have been sent from liturgy singing “When Jesus Went to Egypt.” The text was written by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette to “remember the Holy Family's flight into Egypt and the threat of separation for immigrant families today in the United States.”


Despite having chosen the hymn and sung it several times over the past two weekends, I continue to be troubled by the words I sing.  They are neither sweet in my mouth (see Ezekiel 3:3) nor lukewarm (see Revelation 3:16). Nonetheless, I sing them knowing that as the grandson of immigrants and a baptized Christian I am called to speak for the silenced, advocate for the oppressed and make room for the displaced.

Blessed to be in ministry at St. Mary’s

Bruce


Image result for pope francis
“Migrants and refugees are not pawns on the chessboard of humanity. They are children, women, and men who leave or are forced to leave their homes for various reasons, who share a legitimate desire for knowing and having, but above all for being more.”

Pope Francis
Message for the 2014 World Day of Migrants and Refugees, September 24, 2013 Serving Immigrant Communities



You Are Invited

St. Mary’s is hosting a diocesan meeting to form parish-based Accompaniment Programs.  The meeting will discus training to accompany and provide support to undocumented immigrants when they meet with ICE or go to court.


The session will take place this Wednesday, July 18th from 7-9 p.m. in Monsignor Walsh Hall.   Refreshments will be served.




  


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