July 11, 2021; Amos 7:12-15; 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time
There are eighteen prophetic books in the Hebrew bible. Those books are filled with the words of the prophets, the various messages that are meant for us. But there is very little in those books that tell us about the prophets themselves, who they are or when and how they lived. This is what makes today’s first reading from the Book of Amos so valuable, because in this short reading we find at least three biographical details about Amos. The first is this: Amos was not a professional prophet. You see, in Amos’s time, people would choose prophecy as a career. Kings and other influential people would hire men and women to be their prophet and tell them God’s will. Amos was not that kind of a prophet. He never chose prophecy as a profession. His profession was to be a shepherd.
This leads to the second detail: God calls Amos directly. God’s words are in today’s reading: “Go, and prophesy to my people, Israel.” This leads to the third detail: how Amos was called. Amos was called in the midst of his ordinary routine, while he was tending the sheep. It is this third detail that I wish to focus on today, because it conveys an important spiritual reality. It tells us that God often speaks to us in the ordinary routine of life, just as God spoke to Amos while he was following the flock.
We expect that God will speak to us while we are in church or while we are engaged in personal prayer. But God is just as likely to meet us in the supermarket, on the soccer field, or as we doze in our backyard patio. Any place is a holy place for God. Any moment of our lives can be a divine encounter. We can encounter God in the face of a stranger, in the support of a friend, or in the glory of a sunset. All times and places are game.
So here is the message that today’s first reading offers us: Although we think that we come to God, it is really God who comes to us. So if we have any needs, if we need guidance in making an important decision, if we need strength to forgive an enemy, if we need courage to face pain or suffering, all that we need to do is tell God that need and then continue on with our daily routine. Then, as we answer emails, do the laundry, or rest our head on our pillow, we, like Amos, will hear God’s voice.