1st Reading – Amos 8:4-7
Amos was the earliest of the written prophets. He was born in Tekoa, near Bethlehem, probably around the beginning of the 8th century B.C. This was before the fall of the kingdom of Israel. While he was shepherding his flock he was called by God to prophesy in the northern kingdom. Amos makes it quite clear in his book that God’s choice of him was quite unmerited, because he was neither “a prophet nor the son of a prophet.” He ministered in the reign of Jeroboam II (783-743 B.C.), using as his base the schismatic shrine at Bethel. He was a contemporary of Hosea.
At that time the northern kingdom, thanks to its conquests, was enjoying a period of great prosperity, but there were sharp contrasts between rich and poor and many instances of inequality and injustice: the spirit of true religion was difficult to find. Amos, a deeply religious man, zealous for God’s glory, condemns dissolute city life, social injustice and insincerity of religious worship. He exposes those who exploit the poor and upbraids judges for their venality.
The book is a hymn to God’s omnipotence and to the permanence of the covenant. It is full of rich imagery and vivid parables based on the pastoral and rural life with which Amos was so familiar. Through this he passes on God’s message; if the people do not change their ways they will soon be punished by Yahweh: the kingdom will collapse and the inhabitants will be sent into exile. This is the last chance God will give them to avoid this outcome. In spite of all the criticism the prophet levels at his people, there is still, as always, a shaft of hope; in the context of the repentance to which he calls them, he speaks of future salvation for the remnant of Joseph who with the remnant of Judah will experience the grace of messianic restoration.
2nd Reading – 1 Timothy 2:1-8
Last week we heard St. Paul advising Timothy about false teachers and the damage they were doing. Today we hear him advise about public prayer.
Gospel – Luke 16:1-13
Having heard last week the three parables of mercy (the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal son), this week we continue with Jesus’ teaching through the use of parables. We now hear the first parable about riches (sharing with the needy).