“Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.” ( Desederata, by Max Eherman)
For the love of God, has our society gone totally insane??? We find ourselves living in a divisive, hate-filled, apathetic world where many feel they can say or do anything to anyone without consequences; and cry FOUL when they are called to task. A world in which there is a deep chasm between the “haves” and “have nots”. A world where a “privileged few” believe that they are above all others in society. The scariest part of it is that many of the worst offenders claim to be followers of the Christ! The insanity needs to stop!!
I, a humble priest, jump up on my “soap-box” to decry this sinful behavior in today’s society. I believe that many do not realize the horrible consequences that can and will befall us if we do nothing to change our ways, and truly and honestly adhere to the teachings of the Christ.
The Book of Amos has much to say to us in our time. Much of the same unjust and oppressive behavior that we see today was going on back then.
“Thus says the LORD: For three crimes of Israel, and for four, I will not revoke my word; Because they sell the just man for silver, and the poor man for a pair of sandals. They trample the heads of the weak into the dust of the earth, and force the lowly out of the way. Son and father go to the same prostitute, profaning my holy name. Upon garments taken in pledge they recline beside any altar; And the wine of those who have been fined they drink in the house of their god.” ( Amos 2:6-8)
We see similar behavior amongst the wealthy class today. Treating those that they feel are beneath them; the poor, minorities, the marginalized are trampled and forced out of the way. They only think of their own pleasure. They swinishly wallow in their own greed, make a mockery of justice, and turn a deaf ear to the truth and a blind eye to those in need.
“Woe to those who turn judgment to wormwood and cast justice to the ground! They hate him who reproves at the gate and abhor him who speaks the truth. Therefore, because you have trampled upon the weak and exacted of them levies of grain. Though you have built houses of hewn stone, you shall not live in them! Though you have planted choice vineyards, you shall not drink their wine! Yes, I know how many are your crimes, how grievous your sins: Oppressing the just, accepting bribes, repelling the needy at the gate! Therefore, the prudent man is silent at this time, for it is an evil time”. (Amos 5:7-13)
Where did this so-called elite get the idea that they were better than everyone else? This attitude runs rampant in today’s society. The “privileged few” are allowed to run rough-shod over the rest of society and, shockingly, getting away with it. WHY, WHY, WHY!!!!! Are there no consequences for this evil sin??? Well, Amos tells of a set of consequences dealing with greed.
“Hear this, you who trample upon the needy and destroy the poor of the land! “When will the new moon be over,” you ask, “that we may sell our grain, and the Sabbath, that we may display the wheat? We will diminish the ephah, add to the shekel, and fix our scales for cheating! We will buy the lowly man for silver, and the poor man for a pair of sandals; even the refuse of the wheat we will sell! … On that day, says the Lord GOD, I will make the sun set at midday and cover the earth with darkness in broad daylight. I will turn your feasts into mourning and all your songs into lamentations. I will cover the loins of all with sackcloth and make every head bald. I will make them mourn as for an only son, and bring their day to a bitter end. Yes, days are coming, says the Lord GOD, when I will send famine upon the land: Not a famine of bread, or thirst for water, but for hearing the word of the LORD. Then shall they wander from sea to sea and rove from the north to the east in search of the word of the LORD, but they shall not find it. On that day, fair virgins and young men shall faint from thirst”. (Amos 8:4-13)
God sends down his wrath without mercy upon the transgressors bringing famine and drought upon the Land of Israel. What kind of judgement would God send down to the greedy of today? Financial ruin? Loss of credibility? Who knows?? The greedy need to fear God’s wrath. These “privileged” need to examine their lives and pray for forgiveness. A society is judged on how it treats its lowliest, marginalized members. Observing our society, I believe that we fall well short of a just society. I am sickened by those who use God’s Holy Word to put down people. I am especially sickened by those who parade around with signs that say “GOD HATES FAGS”. God does not hate; humans hate, this goes counter to the teachings of the Christ.
The Christ teaches us to love one another- love your neighbor as yourself.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matt. 5:43-48)
As followers of the Christ, we must be conscious of our actions, and do our best to be living examples of God’s love of all. Yes, as humans, we are sinners. We are far from perfect, but with the help of God, we can overcome our weaknesses. Trust in God’s love and mercy. Pray that we can avoid God’s wrath. Pray for the greedy, the arrogant, the ignorant and ill-informed; that they may come to see the light and mend their ways.
We always need to let your light shine even though we are broken. We need to strive to be agents of justice, mercy and hope. We cannot favor one side over another. We need to let go of our petty prejudices, our fears and our own agendas. We must always, though difficult, work from the middle. We do not want to be loud and obnoxious. A quiet whisper can easily pierce though the noise and get the message across. Even though we may feel a need to whack some upside the head with a 2×4, silence, a kind word, and prayer are more effective. We must embody and show God’s love to all humankind.
“I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (Jn. 13:34-35)
Take the leap of faith into the insanity of the world. Do not be fearful. Go quietly and resolutely, sharing God’s message of love with all whom you encounter. Carry the following words in your heart and know that God is with you.
“Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore, be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy. (Desederata)
We have the strength and power to spread God’s word. We have some great examples and help on the path- the Word of God, Jesus the Christ, the Holy Spirit and the courage of the prophet Amos. So, don’t just sit there!! Get up and get out there to spread the word, For the Love of God.
Rev. Fr. Andrew Smith grew up in Appleton. WI. He studied Theology, Philosophy and Sociology at Lakeland University in Sheboygan, WI and completed his theological studies at Holy Redeemer Seminary of the UICC. Fr. Andrew was ordained to the diaconate in December of 2010 and to the Order of Presbyters in May of 2011. He entered his novitiate in the Order of Preachers Old Catholic in August of 2016 and took his three- year vows in May 2017. Fr. Andrew is pastor of St Dominic Old Catholic Church in Oshkosh, WI. He enjoys cooking, reading, writing and is an avid history buff.