About 8th Century BC an unfamiliar voice was heard disturbing the “peace” of the land. He was like that voice in the wilderness that would be heard 700 years later preparing the way for the Lord and making his paths straight. Amasiah couldnt take it for so long and had to confront this rebel called Amos. Surely, he was not one of the Royal Court Prophets or any of the group of prophets of his time. Amos spoke up that he never claimed to belong to the institutional prophetism. He was only a shepherd looking after his sheep before he was called by God to be his messenger.
He rose at the crucial time when prophecy became a profession and the message became secondary. His uprising message suggested that the messenger must decrease, while the message must be exalted.
His message was for the Northern Kingdom of Israel which flourished in material wealth, power and prosperity. Underneath the great economic and political stability of his time was corruption, immorality and social injustice swept under the carpet. Amos had to let the cat out. He spoke up for the poor against the powerful and the rich.
Hundreds of years after the prophecy of Amos, the world hasn’t changed much in terms of social justice. We are still faced with the problems of injustice and marginalisation; social exclusion; economic and political exploitation. Who speaks up for the poor? Who has the gut to challenge the powerful individuals and institutions who call the shots? Who cares about the “boring” topic about the poor? What has gone wrong with the conscience of the soceity? It is not about feeling sorry or pity for the poor. It is not about being embarrassed about them. It is not about throwing off a few coins at them. It is about doing something to change the structure that pushes anyone into poverty or making them remain poor.
Blessed be God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing. He chose us before the foundations of the world, to be holy and blameless before him. Being holy and blameless is to act with justice and fairness. We are called and chosen to go out to the whole world and proclaim the good news – heal the sick, raise the down trodden, support the weak and free those held in captivity of all sorts.
Pope Francis comes across to me as the Amos of our time; a true shepherd who stands up for his sheep against the wolves of all times. We must listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd; the voice that speaks of peace and justice. Peace to men and women of goodwill.