13th Week, Thursday, Jul 2nd

Amos 7:10-17 / Matthew 9:1-8 
Amos is ordered out of Israel: “Go on back to Judah.”

Israel refused to change her ways in spite of Amos’ preaching. There was nothing Amos could do but pass judgment on her. Israel’s response to Amos’ judgment was predictable. Amaziah, the high priest of Bethel, ordered him to leave the northern kingdom. “Go on back to Judah and do your preaching there,” he said. Amos risked his neck by staying a little longer. He still had a few more things to say. Eventually, however, he returned to Judah. But his words kept echoing in the land of Israel long after he left.
How do we respond when people tell us things we don’t want to hear? Do we close our ears to them? Do we try to silence them?
Jesus said, “This people will . . not understand . . .because their minds are dull, and they have stopped up their ears.”Mt 13:14-15
If people don't like to hear bad things said about them, then how would the people of God respond when they hear bad things said about them? Certainly they, like everyone else, would not like to hear it nor will they be happy to hear it. But being the people of God, they would also have this responsibility of discerning what was said and how true it is.
In the 1st reading, the prophet Amos prophesied against the people of Israel, and they could no longer tolerate what he was saying. But there was no denying that Amos spoke the Word of God. The priest Amaziah called him "seer" and told him to go back to Judah to do his prophesying there. And for not heeding the oracle of the Lord and the prophet, the people of God had to face the consequences.

In the gospel it was the paralytic who listened to the Word of God when Jesus told him - Courage, my child, your sins are forgiven. The paralytic then understood that forgiveness comes before healing and so he opened his heart to forgiveness, and when Jesus told him to get up and walk, he was healed and got up and walked home. When we acknowledge our sinfulness and the call to repentance, our sins will be forgiven and we too will get up and walk towards Jesus.

May we not let our sinfulness prevent us from listening to the voice of God and the call to repentance.

Thursday July 2
Thursday of 13th Week of Ordinary Time   
The priest Amaziah, in the name of the lord king, judges as inopportune the word of God through the prophet Amos. It is not politically relevant.  It was, humanly speaking, a meager consolation for the cripple to hear that his sins were forgiven. But to the believer, sin is the root of human ills; when this root is taken away by forgiveness, the whole person is saved, also in one’s body. In the gospel the scribes call Jesus a blasphemer. The official people of institutionalized religion challenge the true message of God, on account of so-called true religion. Let us pray today that we may recognize the true Spirit of God when here is a message to tell us, even when it is unpleasant.   

Opening Prayer 
Lord our God,  often we do not understand  what you ask of us in life.  Give us a trusting faith, we pray you,  that we may keep believing in you  even when we don’t see where you lead us.  Give us the faith of Abraham,  who was willing to sacrifice his son;  give us the faith of the lame man  who found fresh courage  when his sins were forgiven.  Tell us to stand up and walk  with the certainty that you love us  and want to bring us home to you,  who are our God for ever.   

In pre-exilic Israel, there were groups of prophets who carried their messages throughout the country. Their conduct was frequently ecstatic, oftentimes self-induced. Amos, however, works alone; although a southerner, he preaches at a northern sanctuary.  Amaziah, the priest of the Bethel sanctuary, is clearly annoyed by Amos’s presence and orders the prophet to leave the Bethel sanctuary. Amos argues that this seems to be a case of mistaken identity. He is not part of any prophetic group but rather a sheep herder and a vine dresser by profession. Even though commanded not to speak, he utters his message of destruction. He does so because he is not his own man.  The word of truth is not always welcome and is often flat- out rejected. In today’s Gospel Jesus vindicates his power to forgive sins in his dealing with the paralytic. Even in the face of hostile opposition, he continues to speak the word of truth.  The word of God cannot be silenced. We cannot fail to speak it because of human respect. Amos suffered for his mission but he could only remain steadfast. Jesus never shrank from the truth; for this he had come into die world. At times we remain silent when our convictions are attacked. But we too must remain firm.   

Points to Ponder 
Bands of prophets and the classical prophets 
The duty of the prophet Jesus’ mission: forgiveness of sin  Faith and courage   

– That the Church, aware of its shortcomings, may humbly offer compassion and forgiveness to all who err, and become in our world a sign and instrument of reconciliation, we pray:
 – That we may show special love and care for the handicapped, for children who will never be able to play, for those who will never see God’s colorful world, for those who will never hear or sing songs of joy, we pray:
 -That our homes may become places of mutual understanding and reconciliation; that the young may learn from their parents and each other to forget injuries and to accept one another in their diversity and individuality, we pray:  

 Prayer over the Gifts 
Lord our God,  through this bread and this wine  you unite us with your Son.  He remained faithful to you  when you demanded of him  an impossible sacrifice.  As we offer this sacrifice of your Son,  help us to learn from him  to say yes to any task or sacrifice  which you demand of us in life.  Give us this faith, this love and loyalty  through Jesus Christ our Lord.  

 Prayer after Communion 
Lord our God,  you have strengthened us again  by the presence of Jesus, your Son.  Widen the horizons of our faith  and help us to accept, not only with our minds  but also with our hearts and our whole person,  that you see farther than we,  that your heart is greater than ours,  and that sacrifice may be the toll to pay  for freedom, joy and happiness.  Dispose us to accept this in trust and love  through Jesus Christ our Lord.   

With the lame man when he was healed, we praise and thank God who says to us too when we have sinned: “stand up and walk.” May God keep you walking and may he bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.