Memorial of St. Ireneus, martyr
(Amos 2:6-10.13-16; Matthew 8:18-22)
“It’s the song the whole world over;
It’s the poor, what get the blame;
It’s the rich, what get the curry.
Ain’t it all a blooming shame.”
This folksong would have been as valid in the prophet Amos’ day just as it is in our own. Amos is outraged at the crimes he finds taking place in Samaria, the Northern Kingdom of Israel. He sees good men being sold into slavery as if they were cheap footwear (“a pair of sandals”) and peasants’ land being expropriated while they are “trampled into the dust.” The list goes on. In fact, Amos’ seeming impreciseness (“For three crimes of Israel and for four”) is just another way of saying “many.”
It is tempting to overlook this reading as prophetic rant and to proceed to Jesus’ more curious words, “the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.” But such dismissal would ignore the very reason of Jesus’ urgency. He comes to restore righteousness not only to Israel but to the whole world. He provides both the clarity of mind and the strength of will to live justly, not only in his day but also in ours.