Amos 7: 10-17; Luke 10: 29-37
In today’s passage, the prophet Amos was an inconvenient and unwelcome voice in ancient Israel. Like the other prophets, Amos had no credentials, no royal genealogy, and no ground on which to stand. But Amos had hard words that came to him that burst out.
So, the high priest, an agent of the king, reported to the king that Amos was a traitor who conspired against the crown. The false report of treason must have been enough to persuade the king that the poet was an unbearable danger to the crown and the political establishment. Of course, the priest and, indeed, the king, wanted to silence Amos.
As the high priest confronted Amos on behalf of the king, I imagine this was what the priest wanted—let all the earth keep silent; let the poets keep silent; let the prophets keep silent; let the poor keep silent; let the church keep silent; let the pain of injustice keep silent. The conversation between Amos and the high priests seems like a contest between the official silence of denial and the prophecy evoked by the power of the God of truth.
And that contest is just as urgent today. We live in a society that, in its anxiety, wants to silence truth-telling, wants to stifle honest dissent, wants to halt discouraging words. Our silencing is accomplished by blaming the evil world and certain people, by doing nothing for unanswerable problems, or by closing our eyes and ears to the real issues that are seen as well as unseen.
However, God and the word of God is a voice that continues to speak through such imposed silence. And we dare to say that the church is a venue for such speech that the silencers want to stop. Think of Jesus and his disciples; they had broken the silence of the Roman empire. The good news upsets all social arrangements and all established orders because Jesus is the giver of grace and forgiveness.
How about the story of the Good Samaritan? I wonder who is today’s Good Samaritan, who is like a foreigner, an unwelcome intrusion into society? How do we respond to today’s Samaritan people while we read that story over and over again? Isn’t it true we only talk about enemy-talk, competitor-talk, or threat-talk rather than neighbor-talk? Isn’t it true the dominant silencing in our society is to stop neighbor talk?
Jesus still interrupts all such talk and fear with a simple verdict—Love your God and your neighbor as yourself, and the one who shows mercy is the real neighbor. Such mercy has no tribal boundaries; such mercy does not count the cost, and such mercy does not ask about qualification, as we all are freely given that mercy by Christ’s love.
Let us keep insisting on such combinational talk—Jesus talk and neighbor talk, then let us keep insisting upon such walk. Our calling is to insist on the talk and on the walk in a society and a world against all silencers. Let us keep refusing and breaking the silence and speaking up to the voices that sometimes might be considered inconvenient and unwelcome truth.
Thanks be to God.