The First Reading:
If you thought this reading seemed inappropriately emotional, you’re right. We must look at what Amaziah is responding to in order to get a grasp at the intensity of the reading. Amos was called by the Lord to speak against the corruption that Jeroboam had created in the land of Israel. If Jeroboam and his court did not change from his decadent lifestyle at the expense of the poor, the Lord would lay waste to the land and his house. Instead of seeing it as a rebuke from the Lord, Amaziah sees Amos’ rebuke only as the human words of a fortune teller who was paid to prophesy. Loose bands of these sorts of prophets were common. This is why Amos responds with the words “I am not a prophet”. Amos wants to show that he was not there for his own good. Amos has never earned his bread (income) by prophesying. No, he was just a farmer who was called by the Lord to speak against wickedness. Although Amaziah has a commendable zeal for his king (Jeroboam), his heart was hard to the ways of the Lord. He was not able to see the evils that his king had brought upon the people and this causes him to reject the words of the Lord as well. Spoiler: later on things don’t end well for Jeroboam’s kingdom.
Today’s psalm is a lamentation where the psalmist pleas for the Lord to restore him and his community to the Lord’s favor. The psalmist begs the Lord to not be angry with him. The heart of the psalmist is open. Unlike Amaziah, the psalmist acknowledges the sins committed, and seeks to bring back the community into the Lords favor through the Lord’s grace.
The Second Reading:
This reading comes from opening of Ephesians and provides an overarching narrative of how we fit in God’s plan of salvation. We are ‘chosen’. We are to do ‘all’ things in ‘His will’ so that we will be in proper relation to Christ. The Love of Jesus’ sacrifice is a universal call which challenges us to not think of our lives as a human conquest, but rather as a beautiful relationship between God, us, and humanity.
Today’s reading directly follows last week’s reading in Mark. There are similar sections in both Luke and Matthew but the checklist varies between the books. The items they take are not as important as the statement such an impoverished living creates. The disciples were to live with just enough to get by, so that they were always dependent upon the strength of the Lord.
Putting Them Together:
Today’s readings form a theme of exalting and sanctifying the common. We saw Amos, a farmer who was called by God to prophesy against a nation. The psalmist calls for the Lord to grant favor and bring back a people who have sinned. Paul sees the Christian message as one of sanctification of our common lives, so that we may live as Christ in the world. Finally, Mark reminds us that being a disciple is not about personal gain, but aiming our common lives towards the call. In all these ways ordinary people can live in the spirit of the Lord.
All quoted text is from the NAB translation. All lectionary information is from the USCCB. All commentary on the scripture is strictly my own except when referenced. If you want to read more, I highly recommend the online resource “Text of the Week”.