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A MESSAGE OF HOPE FOR US

Father Francis's picture
Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Amos 9:11-15 & Mt. 9:14-17

Sometimes Amos has been referred to as a prophet of doom. Certainly his warnings about the infidelity of the people towards God were strong. But since he was truly God's prophet he had to inspire the people with hope. Today's reading is full of hope and encouragement.

He tells these people that God will bring about a new age. In order to emphasize the unfathomable depths of God's love he paints a picture in terms the people can understand. The new age will be as if the earth is so fertile that the one who plants the seed can hardly keep ahead of the one who is harvesting the crop. The image is not to be taken literally but there is a promise of the great abundance of God's love and care.

Some people might have a picture of God as a miserly old man, offering a tiny coin in return for some good work, and telling the recipient not to spend it all at once. Amos with his exaggerated agricultural image wants to indicate that God is not like that but is generous beyond our powers to imagine.

What God promised the lsraelites, if they were faithful to Him, He promises to each one of us. Our lives can be so fertile and fruitful if only we would let go and let God cultivate our lives. We just cannot comprehend the generosity of God. But in faith we should believe that He is more forgiving than we suspect, more generous than we hope and more loving that we can possibly know.

Jesus spent so much of His time teaching and healing people that He never seemed to have much time for Himself. In fact He identified Himself so closely with the oppressed and needy that He never seemed to have any fun. The image of Jesus that comes through most of the Gospels is the picture of 'a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.' (Is. 53.3).
But we should never forget the other side of His personality. He had warm relationships with both men and women. He loved little children and they loved Him. And He wasn't above enjoying a good meal and a party from time to time. In fact some of His enemies accused Him of being too austere while others criticised Him for being a libertine! The fact that He was criticised for being too severe and too indulgent means that He lived a well balanced life.

There's nothing wrong with having a party. We see enough of the sad side of life to know that the world is full of hurting people. We know that these people need our love and care. But we have the right, and perhaps the obligation, to have a good time every now and then. Most of us don't need any encouragement but there are some individuals who feel guilty if they are not sharing the misery of people they are trying to reach. They need to be able to have a good laugh, and even be prepared to spend a little money just having a night out. Life is hard enough without dispensing with all opportunities for some enjoyment.

Lord Jesus, we thank our Heavenly Father for His boundless love to us His children. May we try to live a balanced life like You, mourning with those who mourn and rejoicing on feast days and at happy events.

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