Mind the Gap – Twenty Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
The Hebrew prophets of Old Testament times addressed topics that were concerns of the times. Many of those concerns are likewise ours in the third millennium. Truly, there is nothing new under the sun.
Amos was one of the twelve minor prophets in the Hebrew scriptures. He wrote in a period of relative peace and prosperity and had a concern for the neglect of the laws of Yahweah. A particular emphasis concerned themes of social justice, such as the increasing disparity between the very wealthy and the very poor.
The first reading in today’s celebration of the Eucharist has Amos referring to that gap, to the well off who trample on the needy, and bring to ruin the poor of the land. The Prophet goes on: We will measure out less and charge more, and tamper with the scales, buying the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals.
That description sounds familiar. We live in a period where that very same disparity exists. The gap between the rich and the poor is probably wider now than ever before. Or at least that gap is more publicized. We know all about the infamous 1%.
We’ve likely seen the statistics about the pay level of the lowest paid in a corporation versus the pay of the CEO. Of course, our era is also marked by the gap between the wages of males and females. It doesn’t seem to matter whether it is the corner corporate office or the soccer field. We have a gap, whether we like it or not.
Amos and his companions would have a field day in this era. Actually, there are prophets who speak of the disparity. There are numerous political, moral and religious leaders and groups who help us see and comprehend the gaps. Some use the language of sin; others use the language of injustice.
The Church, for instance, speaks in prophetic ways. Economic justice is a major issue in Church teaching. Recent popes have often spoken of economic justice and the wide gap between the rich and the poor. Whether John Paul II, Benedict XVI or Francis, recent popes agree very strongly on the need for economic justice and a narrowing of the gap between rich and poor.
But do the right people listen? I do listen and you do, but we probably aren’t the ones who need the challenging words. There are so often references to the notion of preaching to the choir. Those wonderful Church documents on economic justice probably fit into that category.
Those who agree with them are the ones who read them and take them to heart. Someone who doesn’t agree with them tends to ignore them or criticize the Church for speaking of economic or political issues.
What to do! A first step is to follow the lead of the Hebrew prophets, of Jesus, and so many other courageous voices. They continue to speak the truth, and many lead by example. Paul offers a practical suggestion in today’s excerpt from the Letter to Timothy: I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions.