Sunday, July 15, 2012

Magisterium and Prophecy

Amaziah, priest of Bethel, said to Amos,
"Off with you, visionary, flee to the land of Judah!
There earn your bread by prophesying,
but never again prophesy in Bethel;
for it is the king's sanctuary and a royal temple."
Amos answered Amaziah, "I was no prophet,
nor have I belonged to a company of prophets;
I was a shepherd and a dresser of sycamores.
The LORD took me from following the flock, and said to me,
Go, prophesy to my people Israel."
Amos 7: 12-15
Interesting first reading for Mass today.  The homilist explained that Amos was expelled from the sanctuary at Bethel by the priests of that temple because he was such an ardent defender of the poor.  They challenged him: What right did he have to prophesy?  This was a royal temple and he was not appointed to the sanctuary.  He was not a priest.—he was only a shepherd with a few fig trees.  Who was he to presume to speak on God’’s behalf?  What really upset them and caused them to expel Amos was that Amos spoke on behalf of the poor and called out the rich for their wealth.  He compared the wealthy women to fat cows and said that they lie around all day in luxury, getting drunk by lunchtime while the poor were being sold into slavery for the price of a pair of sandals.  And the priests could not have this—the sanctuary depended on the generosity of the rich and the powerful—the very people Amos was prophesying against. 
Then the homilist mentioned other people who were not priests but whom God raised up as prophets in the Church—Saint Francis, Saint Catherine of Siena, Saint Bridgette of Sweden and how they had spoken for the poor or had called the Church to reform.  He mentioned Mother Teresa who stood before presidents and kings and the United Nations calling for Life—the unborn, the elderly, the terminally ill, and even those on Death Row.  These were all prophetic voices yet none of them was a bishop or a priest.
Finally the homilist mentioned “THE NUNS” and those who wished to silence them.  “Maybe,” he said, “there are problems.  I don’t know.  I don’t see it.  But one of the charges against them is that they speak too much for the poor, they are too involved in ‘Social Justice’.  How can one speak 'too much' on behalf of the least of Christ’s brothers and sisters?  Is this not like Amaziah and the priests of Bethel?  Are prophets squelched when they point out the injustices against the poor because our friends and benefactors are among the rich?”   It was thought-provoking. 
Are Archbishop Lori and his buddy KofC Grand Poobah (and former Reagan Ade) Carl Anderson upset at the nuns for being spokespersons for the poor?  Are Cardinal Law and Cardinal Burke upset at the nuns because the nuns are making their benefactors who support their luxury in Rome look bad?  I don’t know but the tone of things suggests that the days of preaching Justice may be drawing to a close in our Catholic world.  I am the first to admit that there is a Magisterium and it needs to be listened to.  But God raises up prophetic voices outside that Magisterium.  Has since the days of Amos.  And will until Justice pours down off the mountainsides and Charity rules the land. 

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