Amos 8:4-7 (NRSV)
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Verse 4Hear this, you that trample on the needy, and bring to ruin the poor of the land, Verse 5saying, "When will the new moon be over so that we may sell grain; and the sabbath, so that we may offer wheat for sale? We will make the ephah small and the shekel great, and practice deceit with false balances, Verse 6buying the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals, and selling the sweepings of the wheat." Verse 7The Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob: Surely I will never forget any of their deeds.
There’s a long arc of repeated motifs in scripture, extending from Genesis 1 through Revelation 22: God’s steadfast love, law and gospel, faith, hope, righteousness, just to name a few. One of these great themes—social justice—will carry our reflections throughout this week. Today we hear of Amos the shepherd preaching truth-to-power in the northern kingdom of Israel. The wealthy care nothing for the poor and needy. They desire the Sabbath to be over so that they can sell their grain, rig the scales and short-change their buyers. But the mighty are warned, God will act to exercise justice on behalf of the outcasts. Will the people heed the words of Amos and repent? Will we when we consider the poor, the outcasts, the immigrants among us? How will we offer a faithful response to the needy so that justice will reign in our own time?
O God of justice and mercy, tune our ears and sharpen our eyes to the needs of those around us who cannot fend for themselves. Through Christ our Lord who became poor and homeless for our sake and the sake of the world. Amen.