Thursday, April 7, 2011

26th Sunday of Ordinary Time

I'm slowly adding all the homilies I have not uploaded since last September. Here the one for the 26th Sunday. Hopeful I'll add another one before the end of the week.

I don’t like the prophet Amos. For one thing he is kind of blunt in his approach to prophesying and comes across as someone who does not care about offending the sensibilities of his readers. But I think the reason why I dislike him the most is because he makes me uncomfortable with his words, especially when he speaks about the complacent sitting in their couches, eating fine foods, drinking wine and listening to music, while they ignore the plead of the poor.
I rather read to Isaiah, now there is a prophet for me! I love to hear his great descriptions of the messiah. The problem I have with Amos is that he hits to close for comfort, with his reminders that although we might be living a seemingly secure and comfortable life, we cannot become complacent, because like Jesus said the poor will always be with us and God, who loves everyone in the same way, hears the cries of their cries.
Now on Amos favor, I have to say that, because the way he comes across, it is very easy to dismiss him as someone which dislikes the rich, specially those who are to be blessed by an easy life, but in fact what he really talks against is people who enjoy the blessings God has bestowed in them, while forgeting those who are less fortunate. His fight is clearly with those people that choose to think that taking care of the poor is the responsibility of someone else. And on this point Jesus and the prophet Amos echo each other.
We see this in today’s gospel, the parable of Lazarus and the rich man. In this story Jesus shows us that the great sin of the rich man is not that he was rich but that he became so content with his own live that the suffering of Lazarus, which lived right at his doorstep, became invisible. And this is the same attitude Amos condemns.
As Christians we are all called to secure justice for the oppressed. As the Church of Jesus Christ, we are expected to give voice to those who like Lazarus are invisible and have no voice. You, me, Bishop O’Brian and even Pope Benedict are all called not to forget the suffering of the poor and when necessary to make sure that the comfortable and the complacent do not forget the voices of our brothers and sisters that are suffering.
I’m sure that the vast majority of you agree with me in these points, but perhaps more than one might be thinking, what can I do to show that I have not forgotten those less fortunate? Should I quit my job and go and volunteer in a homeless shelter or a soup kitchen? Should I increase my offering to the poor? I do not think this is what the Lord has in mind for us today. I think that what the lord wants from us is solidarity with the less fortunate. What do I mean? The Lord wants us to look at the poor, the unborn, the elderly, the homeless, and the hungry not as someone we might be able to help by increasing our offering but as our own brothers and sisters. Once we can do this then helping them becomes, not an obligation, but a necessity. Once we accomplish this, then the Holy Spirit will guide us in what is the best way in which we can use our resources to help them, but for this, we need to stop looking at those who suffer as “Them” and start seen them as “Us”.
In a world in which the value of human life is defined by how much a person can produce, and in which the weakest members of our society do not have a voice of their own. The Church, all of us, are called to stand next to them in solidarity and exclaim “We hear the cries of the poor”, and today, the Good Lord has given us Amos the annoying, prophet, to reminds us who we are and what are we all called to do. Amen.