Amos 8: 4-12
In Amos’s context, the nation had enjoyed forty years of peace and prosperity, mainly because the empire of Assyria had been busy with troubles of its own. In the meantime, the rich had gotten richer while the poor had become poorer. The worst part was the alienation between the two. They had forgotten they were kin and friends. And the imbalance and chasm between them
had become broader and deeper, preventing them from being one community.
This situation bothered God the most. Because making a profit has become more important than anything else in the land—more important than God’s justice and more important than God. So God recruited the prophet Amos, who could challenge and shake a wrong theology—putting God’s name in vain.
Amos reminded people how God had tried to get their attention—I have tried famine, drought, blight, and locusts, God says. I have tried illness, sudden death, and political disruption. But none of it has worked. The scariest part is that people who ignore God’s word will not find God’s word anymore, even though they are seeking it and hunger and thirst for it—not a famine of bread or a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord.
Have you ever heard of the term poverty cycle? Growing up in a low-income family leads to hunger, poor health, and poor living conditions; leads to less educational opportunities and achievements; leads to less employment opportunities; leads to not attaining financial sufficiency; another A low-income family then the poverty cycle goes on and on. Like Amos’s time, the worst part is the alienation—many people have forgotten that the poverty cycle is a personal issue, not a systemic one.
I wonder if God still recruits God’s people who can challenge and shake that vicious cycle and still hunger and thirst for God’s good news—the messages for those stuck in all kinds of vicious cycles around us. Isn’t it true that we often ignore, justify, close our eyes, and shake the dust off our shoulders—by saying, “It is what it is; I am sorry that things happen, and God will take care of it in the end.”
Although we do not have an exact solution, although we are often facing unanswerable questions and situations, I trust that what God does is to call us together into faith and prophetic community, “the community” that keeps building the bridge to fill the chasm between the black-white world, trying to connect one another rather than choosing one side; “the community” that keeps answering God’s calling, like Amos, to see, hold, and proclaim God’s vision; “the community” that keeps challenging and questioning and even shaking all kinds of systemic and vicious cycles, and the community that keeps carrying and revealing who God really is—God of love, God of unending mercy and forgiveness, and God of grace and justice for all—all means all—to hunger and thirst for the good news for the people of God.
Thanks be to God.