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Learning from the Prophet Amos

July 12, 2015 Click on the left end of the black bar to play/pause

July 12, 2015
Mark 6:7-13
Fr. George Smiga

We do not know much about the lives of the prophets of Israel. We of course have their words written down in the books of the Old Testament, but who they were and how they lived is largely hidden from us. Today’s first reading, however, gives us a detail about the prophet Amos. It tells us that he was a very busy man. Amos says in the reading, that when God called him to prophesy to Israel, he was a shepherd and a dresser of sycamores. That’s two full time jobs.

Whatever we might want to know about the prophet Amos, it is clear that he had plenty to do. And this makes Amos like us. Some of us here have two jobs. An even greater number of us, in one way or another, have our plates full. We work and we also have an array of other responsibilities and goals: driving the kids to baseball games, keeping in touch with friends, caring for an aging parent, finding time for exercise, pursuing continuing education. There is no lack of things in our life that we want or have to do.

Amos, then, is an example to us. Because when our lives are filled with things to do, it is harder to hear what God wants us to do. But Amos, for all the activities in his life, was able to hear the call of the Lord. How did he do this? We cannot say for sure. But somehow he was able to recognize clues that God was calling him in the midst of a busy life. Somehow he was able to know that this or that occurrence, in the midst of all that he had to do, was the voice of God.

What might such a clue or an occurrence look like? It might be a failure or a mistake that we make. We hurt our spouse or friend. We try to help but only make things worse. Instead of pushing on to the next responsibility in our busy schedule, that mistake might be God’s call, saying to us, “Stop. Change. Learn how to do this better.”

It might be an expectation that we carry. Our daughter should live this way. Our friend should do that. We carry this expectation for a long time, and nothing changes. The frustration that we feel over the inability of others to change might be more than an annoyance. It might be God’s voice asking us to reconsider the expectations we place on other people and inviting to deal with them in a more realistic way.

It might be an opportunity to love or to serve. We know that we should spend more time with our spouse, with our child, with an aging relative. We know that we could really help if we gave ourselves to someone who was struggling in the office or in our neighborhood. Then an opportunity arises in our schedule. That could be God’s way of saying, “Do this now. Seize this opportunity to love or to serve.”

We are busy people. So was the prophet Amos. But he was able to discern clues and occurrences in his busy life as the call of the Lord. We would be wise to do the same.

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