First Reading: Amos 2:6-10. 13-16; Psalm: 50. R. v. 22a; Gospel: Mt 8:18-22
BEWARE: THEY ARE VERY PRECIOUS TO GOD
BY FR VALENTINE NNAMDI EGBUONU, MSP
The death of Joshua ushered in a new phase of leadership in Israel – The Judges. These were warriors or military leaders appointed by God to rule, defend and administer justice to his people. Notwithstanding, Israel became socially, morally and religiously corrupt. Judges and officials received bribes and meted out unjust treatment on the poor. The four transgressions of Israel which the prophet Amos hinted at were: Perversion of Justice, Oppression of the Poor, Uncleanness and Luxury with Idolatry. The Judges, their officials and the rich were the culprits of these sins. God vowed that he shall not revoke their punishment.
The rich so oppressed the insolvent poor by trading them for silver or a pair of shoes when they failed to repay their debts. Some others who couldn’t pay what they owe were sold into slavery for money. The rich also seized the clothes of the poor as guarantee for debt repayment even when the Law of Moses forbade this (Dt 24:6; 10-13). And since they have no need of these clothes, they spread them by the altar of Baal and perform the foreign religious rite of sleeping with their prostitutes and feasting with wine extorted from poor farmers as fine. The worst was that a man and his family could all be sold out to cover a debt (Neh 5:5; Mt 18:25). The Judges were silent to these practices due to bribery and sometimes perpetrated these acts too; and this stirred up the anger of God.
We may be very quick to judge the perpetrators of these acts. But it’s best we simply and silently look into ourselves. Am I an employer, a teacher, leader, pastor, doctor or a boss in any place? How do I treat my subjects especially the indigents and most vulnerable ones? Do I treat them as they deserve? Human beings created in God’s own image. Or do I prey on their vulnerability? There is always that temptation to take advantage of our subjects especially those who are vulnerable to the extent of having no one to defend them. We can resist this temptation because when no one defends them, God will not spare us. If there are people we should fear more, it’s not even the rich but the poor and vulnerable. They are God’s to protect.
PRAYER FOR THE DAY
God our Father, give us a kind and generous heart. Amen.