Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏩ ⏹️
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Hear this word, ye kine of Bashan, that are in the mountain of Samaria, which oppress the poor, which crush the needy, which say to their masters, Bring, and let us drink. The Lord God hath sworn by his holiness, that, lo, the days shall come upon you, that he will take you away with hooks, and your posterity with fishhooks.
— Amos 4:2
Amos doesn't mince his words. He sees the hypocrisy of the rich, how they own everything they want, including the priests and scribes, themselves sellouts to mammon, and he calls it out in sharp language and fearful imagery: God as a fisher of men, dragging away the sinful with fishhooks. It is clear why Amos made enemies among the upper classes, and why he was threatened with his life if he didn't leave Judah.
There is an interesting parallel in these words with the Gospel of Mark, where Jesus says to Simon and Andrew, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.1 This will be explored further in the reflections on Mark.2 For now it may be enough to say that Jesus, like Amos, was appalled by the injustice of society, and firmly on the side of the oppressed would call out the hypocrisy, also in no uncertain language. Jesus and Amos, more than any other prophets, were both focused on eliminating oppression, and in that sense both were revolutionaries.
When we see oppression and injustice in the world today, few are moved to rise up against it. Not for want of desire, or even ire, but because the system is so powerful we feel it is futile. One of the hardest things to do is to speak truth to power. We risk too much. An approach that some find helpful is to simply pray for the oppressor—not for their downfall(!) but for their redemption. Even this is no easy task. Think of a world leader who's policies, even very person you despise, and try praying for them every day for two weeks, sincerely, without judgement. Your whole being will likely rebel against it, but perhaps in some small way this act might make the world a better place, replacing disdain and hatred with love and hope.
1 Mark 1:17
2 (update) See reflection for 7th October, Revolutionary