Deacon Tom's Homily for Thursday July 5th

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I was no prophet[1] says Amos. How could Amos not be a prophet? He spoke prophetic words to the people of God! Amos didn’t deny proclaiming a prophetic word to Israel, but at the same time, he refused to be called a professional seer. He was just a farmworker in the southern kingdom of Judah. But this didn’t hinder God from calling him to the wealthier northern kingdom of Israel—even to the courts of the king himself! Amos’ story leads me to wonder about our current visionaries, those prophets who seek justice.

Pope Francis is one of those prophets. He writes and speaks about the unjust disparity of wealth on our planet. Like Amos, he challenges us to do something to change the situation between the great gap of privilege and poverty. Pope Francis insists that all people deserve respect, freedom, literacy and the basic needs of life consisting of not just food, water, clothing and shelter, but also sanitation, education, and healthcare.

US-wide, homes built in the last 6 years are 74% larger than those built in the 1910s, an increase of a little over 1,000 square feet. The average new home in America, be it condo or house, now spreads over 2,430 square feet. It is also important to note that, parallel to the rise in living space, households have been getting smaller over the same period. In 2015, the average number of people in a household was 2.58, compared to 4.54 in 1910. This means that today the average individual living in a newly built home in the US enjoys 211% more living space than their grandparents did, 957 square feet in total.

The truth is, there are no cookie-cutter versions of a prophet. Amos’ story shows us that anyone can be a prophet. How? By the working of the Holy Spirit. Remember, when you were baptized, you received the Spirit, and you were commissioned to take up your share in Jesus’ role as priest, prophet, and king.

True, you don’t have an international platform like Pope Francis, but you can still be a prophet right where you are. The Catechism tells us that the whole people of God shares in Jesus’ prophetic ministry “when it deepens its understanding and becomes Christ’s witness in the midst of this world”. So, whenever you grow deeper in your faith, and whenever you share it with people around you, you are acting prophetically.

Pope Francis angered some people when he referred to the church as a "field hospital for the sick and wounded." Jesus' treatment of sinners upset the religious teachers of the day. When a cripple was brought to Jesus because of the faith of his friends, Jesus did the unthinkable. He first forgave the man his sins. The scribes regarded this as blasphemy because they understood that only God had authority to forgive sins and to unbind a man or woman from their burden of guilt. Jesus claimed an authority which only God could give. Jesus not only proved that his authority came from God, but he also showed them the great power of God's redeeming love and mercy by healing the cripple of his physical ailment. This man had been crippled not only physically, but spiritually because of his sin and lack of forgiveness.

Jesus freed him from his burden of guilt and restored his body as well. Sin cripples us more than any physical ailment can. Sin is the work of the kingdom of darkness and it holds us in eternal bondage. There is only one solution and that is the healing, cleansing power of Jesus' forgiveness. When we are crippled by sin, a key component of recovery is that we must rise. We must have enough faith to stand up and walk out our healing. The paralyzed man would never know if he had been healed unless he stood up and tried to walk. The same goes for us. If we don’t trust Jesus to forgive us, we will never have the courage to rise and take the next step.

So many people lack hope today. So many people feel trapped in sin. So many are bound in selfishness. And you have an important message to share with them. You can remind them that God has plans to give them a future full of hope. You can proclaim it every time you go out of your way to care for someone who is hurting. You can announce it every time you gently but firmly stand up for your faith or for the needs of the poor, the unborn, and the marginalized. Your words and actions can make a difference. You can be a prophet.

God isn’t waiting for someone else to come along; he wants you to take up your calling. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that your occupation, your state in life, or any other external factor disqualifies you. If God can call a farmworker from the south to proclaim his word to the elites of the north, he can call anyone. Even you.

[1] (Amos 7:14)