I charge you before God, who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus, who gave testimony under Pontius Pilate for the noble confession, to keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ
Today, the Holy Church in choosing its readings and Gospel, provides us with three quick punches to the gut, a real gut check.
Amos once again is prophesying against the failures of God’s people. Imagine, God Who loves His people deeply, is forced to look at the wholesale disregard, the coldness, His people live in. Their hearts grew distant, not just from Him and His love, but from their very neighbors. The world was falling to pieces around them. Leaders, faithless and self-centered. As long as they were comfortable, nothing else mattered. There was increasing disparity between the very wealthy and the very poor. God witnesses the glaring lack of social justice, a society living on corruption and the oppression of the poor and helpless. Even religion was corrupted, every belief and practice blended together to please the crowds. The wealthy and well-heeled thought that the superficial stuff they did could stave off economic failure, distress (for the rich), and invasion. They didn’t have to dedicate their whole selves to God; they only had to go through the motions. Amos points them to the natural and supernatural consequences of living that way. His words were echoed by Dr. Martin Luther King and others who call us back to covenant with God, to get out of our complacency and back to where we must be if we truly love the God who saves us. Gut check.
In Paul’s letter to Timothy, he reminds Timothy of his call in the fullness of the Apostolic Priesthood. No, the clergy are not exempt from living fully in Jesus, to being 100% witnesses to His salvation. He warns people like me to put aside all complacency: But you, man of God, pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness. Gut check.
Jesus’ parable of Lazarus and the rich man runs a total of 295 words, with 21% dedicated to the set-up, and 79% dedicated to outcomes. As with anyone facing up to their consequences, the bed they made, all the bargaining in eternity makes no difference. Jesus tells us that if we are His we get it. We have listened and have not put off doing. Too late? No, but our gut check time is now. Let us set to work!