The moral failure

September 25, 2022

We are hearing from Amos on back-to-back Sundays, which is most unusual, as he is considered a “minor prophet.” One of the earliest prophets, he preached in the Northern Kingdom of Israel as the prosperity of an earlier age led his people to stray from the covenant. The moral failure of the people can be seen in the way the well-off ignore the outcasts, the oppressed, and the powerless. Amos repeatedly warns the people that if they continue to ignore the economic and social injustices of their nation, divine judgment will rain down upon them: “Woe to the complacent in Zion!” (6:1). Complacency is a temptation for us today as well. Many of us are rather well insulated from poverty, violence, famine, and curable disease. But such is not the case in developing countries, in inner cities, or even in pockets of our own hometowns. Are these not our brothers and sisters? Do we choose not to see them? The rich man in the Gospel chose not to see Lazarus. But he knew he was there. He even knew his name. But during his life, he chose to remain blind to his needs, not even dumping the scraps from his table outside his gate for him to eat. Perhaps this would be an acknowledgment that he could do something to ease his suffering. To inoculate himself from guilt he chose to ignore him, to pretend there was nothing he could do. Even now, do we assume there is nothing we can do to help the masses of Lazaruses at our gates? At the end of Jesus’ parable, Abraham dismisses the rich man’s pleas to send the deceased Lazarus to warn his brothers, saying that “neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead” (Luke 16:31). As Luke knew when he wrote his Gospel, now someone had risen from the dead. Nearly two thousand years later, does Jesus’ resurrection persuade us to end our complacency and give compassion and mercy to those in need? Amen. (Casey, Most Reverend Robert G. Pastoral  Patterns. World Library  Publication, 2022)

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