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13th Week - Friday


13th Week, Ordinary Time, Friday, 06-07-18
Amos 8:4-6, 9-12 / Matthew 9:9-13

It is not really easy for someone who has done wrong to get back onto the track of life again. Even if they truly repent of their wrong-doing, their guilt remains etched on the minds of people.


For example, for those who have been released from prison, the label "ex-prisoner" will always be in the minds of those who know them. And as long as people keep harping on guilt, then life is being drained away. Even if one has repented and made amends for the guilt, the chains of the past bind them again when others recall the guilt. Often, those with a guilty past are made to feel that self-respect and self-worth count for less than zero.

That was the case with Matthew the tax-collector. He gained his wealth but he lost his worth. He got his revenue but lost his respect.

And it is indeed surprising that of all the virtuous people, Jesus would call such a person who is less than zero in the eyes of others.

It will take some time for us to understand that the Divine Healer came for the sick.

It will take some time for us to understand that the Saviour came for the sinner.

But in the meantime, what we need to show to those who have done wrong is to show them the mercy of God.
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Whenever we read the Old Testament, we will certainly come across this phrase - "Thus says the Lord", or "It is the Lord who speaks", or "The oracle of the Lord ... ".

In whatever way it is phrased, it is quite obvious that the Lord often spoke to His people, and these prophesies were proclaimed by the prophets.

Amos was sent by the Lord to the Northern Kingdom. He was different from the other prophets. He came from Tekoa, which is in the wilderness of Judea in the south, about six miles south of Jerusalem. 

He was a layman, a man of the fields; he wasn’t a professional priest or prophet, but he was called to go up to Bethel in the north, the center of calf worship.

Amos was sent to Israel at a time when the nation thought they were militarily secured and prosperous.

Yet they were turning to idolatry and abandoning their faith in God. In short they had misplaced their confidence on a false sense of security, and abandoned the laws of the Lord and had turned to injustice and oppression of the poor and helpless.

So Amos had a real difficult time on all fronts with a really difficult people. Yet in the end it was that difficult people who met with a tragic end when they were annihilated by Assyria in 721BC.

They had rejected the Word of the Lord from Amos, so in the end "they will stagger from sea to sea, wander from north to east, seeking the word of the Lord and failing to find it."
It was a tragic end for the Northern Kingdom but over and over again, the Bible has shown us that it was the proud and mighty who reject the Word of God from the prophets, and yet it was the humble and lowly who accepted it.

As Jesus said in the gospel, He came to call not the proud and mighty who think they are virtuous, but rather sinners who are humble and lowly.

May we acknowledge our sinfulness, may we come before the Lord in humility and lowliness and receive His Word, and may the Lord in His mercy grant us His constant blessings.


(Fr. Stephen Yim)