Wednesday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time
(Amos 5:14-15.21-24; Matthew 8:28-34)
The words of the "Pledge of Allegiance," which many Americans will proudly recite today, end with an appeal for liberty and justice. It’s important to keep in mind that the United States has enshrined both virtues. Fairness in its laws is as much a part of the American heritage as the freedom which its founders risked life and fortune to attain. The prophet Amos pleads for a similar justice in the first reading today.
Amos lives in the prosperous reign of Jeroboam II of Israel, the northern kingdom. Unfortunately, not everyone is thriving. The poor are often swindled of the little they have while the wealthy luxuriate. The story of Ahab and the poor man Naboth provides a sterling example although it occurred some seventy-five years before Amos comes on the scene. The prophet cannot help but speak out against the inequities. In a phrase echoed by Dr. Martin Luther King, he implores, “...let justice surge like water, and goodness like an unfailing stream.”
As long as people cling to individual privileges and claim rights that ignore responsibility, the justice to which Amos appeals will be wanting. Jesus provides the key to the only adequate response. He died so that we might live in true freedom and complete justice. By modeling his self-sacrifice for others, Catholic Americans can assist their nation attain the ideals it espouses.