You probably remember, maybe not fondly, the readings we had from the Books of Kings the last couple of weeks. The names were hard to pronounce, and their deeds were hard to hear. Each and every one of the kings was worse than the one who preceded him. How often did we hear the ancient historian write “and he did evil in the sight of the LORD?” What makes it doubly hard to hear, I think, is that Israel’s sordid history is in some ways our own. How often do we too turn away from the Lord and his mercy and his plan for our lives? Our deeds, hopefully, are not as murderous as those of the ancient kings, but they are still lacking, of course, in the sight of God.
And so the Lord has sent Amos to call those Israelites – and us, too – to conversion. Amos is very hard to hear sometimes, because he calls a situation the way it is. He doesn’t beat around the bush or soft-pedal his prophecy. You know exactly what’s on his mind. And poor Amos can’t do anything less. He tells us in today’s first reading:
The lion roars—
who will not be afraid!
The Lord GOD speaks—
who will not prophesy!
For Amos, not to say what God is calling him to say is as fearful as facing the roaring lion. And so, we are called to hear, and to reform our lives, and to follow the Lord once again.
As Amos expresses the Lord’s displeasure, it is the Psalmist who expresses the Lord’s mercy:
But I, because of your abundant mercy,
will enter your house…
We cannot make up for our sinfulness all on our own. We need our Savior, the one who calms the storms, despite our lack of faith. When we have messed up our lives so that we cannot see past the storm, we know that we can depend on our God who loves us back into relationship with him. Even the violent winds and stormy seas of our own lives obey the one who gave his life for us.