13th Week, Saturday, Jul 4th

Amos 9:11-15 / Matthew 9:14-17
Amos holds out hope to Israel: God said, “I will rescue my people.”

If we refuse to breathe, the air doesn’t punish or suffocate us. We punish or suffocate ourselves. If we beat our fist against a brick wall, the brick wall doesn’t punish our fist by making it bleed. We punish or bloody it ourselves. This may help us understand better the situation between Israel and God.
 In a real sense, when Israel refused to obey God’s Law, it was Israel who punished herself, not God. Israel’s punishment was the natural result of her sinfulness. But in spite of Israel’s foolishness, God promised not to desert Israel. He would still save her, if she would let him. Recall a pain that we brought on ourselves by our own refusal to do what was right. “We cannot break God’s command-ments; we can only break ourselves against them.” Author unknown
In the Old Testament, the phrase "It is the Lord who speaks ... " appears many times and what follows can be called a prophecy and it is usually through the mouth of the prophet that the word of the Lord came forth. Such is the case in the 1st reading and it contains two prophecies. Both begin with "It is the Lord who speaks:" Both also started off in a similar way - "That day ... " and "The days are coming now ... "

It gives an expectation of sometime in the future where something wonderful is going to happen where there will be restoration and blessings to come. Indeed, it is a time to look forward to. It is a time to hope for.

But there are two sides to a prophecy. Like two wings of a dove, biblical prophecy contains twin characteristics which are in harmony with one another. The first, foretelling, predicts the future by announcing the will of God and his plans for his people. Foretelling calls the faithful to cooperate with God’s holy intentions through prayer, patience, and faithful obedience. The second, forthtelling applies to the present circumstances. Forthtelling calls God’s people to repentance and draws them back to the covenant promises and lessons of old. The Old Testament prophets frequently served as social and political reformers.

The prophecies of the Old Testament are fulfilled in Jesus when He came. He came to bring us out of mourning and sadness to rejoicing and gladness. That day or the day to come is already here and now. Jesus has spoken. He will lift us from mourning and sadness so that we will rejoice and be glad.

Saturday July 4     
Saturday of 13th Week

We hear in the first reading an appendix to Amos written probably at a later date, but in the style and perspectives of Amos; it promises a new future to those who are faithful.   Can we be people of compromise? To settle disagreement and make peace, to solve disputed matters and to become at least tolerant of one another, yes. But not with the gospel. Not when it comes to the renewal of life, whether personal or communal, that is constantly asked of us. Jesus tells his disciples and us, who are living in messianic times, that we are new, liberated people: we cannot compromise with salvation, with our faith, with the gospel. Young wine belongs in new wineskins. New times require new attitudes.     

Opening Prayer    
Lord our God,   we are your people on the march,   moving forward to you with your Son   who came to make everything new.   Dispose us, Lord, to accept the pain   of leaving the familiar behind us.   Uproot us from our established ways   and guide our faltering steps   toward your new future in Jesus Christ,   your Son and our Lord for ever.

For the prophets, even those with the most dire prophecies, there is always a bright horizon. Amos is no exception. He speaks today of the reconstruction of the fallen “booth” of David, the restoration of the Davidic monarchy, a kingship of honor and justice, as was true in the days of old. It will be a kingdom whose authority will spread beyond its borders.   When that day comes, the harvest of field and vineyard will be astonishing in its abundance. No sooner will a crop be reaped than the plow will prepare another planting. The formerly devastated population will again dwell in peace and security. With an abundance of the good things of the earth, the people will never again go needy nor will they again be uprooted from their land.   Jesus today speaks of the end-time with a different image, that of the wedding feast. It is a period of joy and happiness when the dark and somber have no place. The fact is that in faith we believe that we are living in that final period. God has spoken to us in his Son; it doesn’t get any better than that. When we stop and think of the Holy Spirit, the scriptures, and the sacraments, the privilege to participate at the altar in the solemn memorial of his death-resurrection, we realize how blessed we are. Christianity is a religion of gratitude. Of that we should never lose sight.     

Points to Ponder     
Biblical images of the end-time  
Our life in this final period  
The wedding imagery     

– For the Church, that the People of God and its leaders may follow the promptings of the creative Spirit to speak to the people of today the ever-new language of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we pray:  
– For husbands and wives, parents and children, that they may not take one another for granted but renew each other with a love that is inventive and attentive, we pray:  
– For artists, poets and inventors, that they may reveal to us the splendor of creation and the riches of life beyond the apparent drabness of our existence, we pray: 
 – For this community, that we may not be afraid of authentic change, and draw from Christ the courage to start the reform of our world and our Church with the renewal of ourselves, we pray:     

Prayer over the Gifts     
Lord our God,   this bread and this wine   are the signs of the new covenant   that you have made with us   in the blood of Jesus Christ.   May we indeed be your new people   of the new and everlasting covenant.   Renew our hearts,   make us your new wine of joy and hope,   that we may build a new earth today   and march forward with your Son   toward your new heaven   where you will be our God for ever.     

Prayer after Communion     
God of our future,   you have given us Jesus, your Son,   as our companion on the road   for renewing ourselves and the world.   Let him prod us on   when we try to compromise   by merely patching up the old here and there;   let him curb our impatience   when we try to rush people and things   beyond their capacity for growth.   Lead us forward on the new road of the gospel   through our trusted guide, Jesus Christ,   your Son and our Lord for ever.     

We are God’s new people, the people of the new covenant. So we must live the new life of Jesus and do all we can to make our world new in justice and love and compassion. May God give you this insight and the strength to carry it out: The Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.