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The WORD. The TRUTH.

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Homily for Friday of the 13th Week in Ordinary Time, 01 July 2022, Mt 9:9-13

If the prophet Amos were to say today what he said 2800 years ago, I think he would have been red-tagged. He is boldly denouncing the acts of social injustice that were being committed by people in his time, especially those who enriched themselves by exploiting the poor.

The structure of the oracle is very typical. It sounds like a court decision that begins with an enumeration of the criminal charges against the accused, of which the prophet says they have been found guilty. Then follows the pronouncement of the verdict, namely, the corresponding judgment for their crimes against the poor of the land.

In punishment for their social sins, the prophet announces the coming of a disaster. He says, the Lord “will make the sun set at midday and cover the earth with darkness in broad daylight.” He will “turn their feasts into mourning and their songs into lamentations.” He projects the coming of a terrible time of grieving when God will “make them mourn as for an only son and bring their day to a bitter end.”

But the most unique part of this oracle is in the last paragraph. There, he predicts the coming of a different kind of famine and drought, not of the literal kind but rather of a spiritual kind. He says it will not be a famine of bread or thirst for water but a FAMINE FOR HEARING THE WORD OF THE LORD. For ignoring the warnings of the prophets, he says the time will come when they will not hear prophetic voices anymore, even if 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.”

A famine of the word is a perfect description of what the Pharisees in our Gospel reading today are themselves experiencing. They are supposed to be the ones who devote their whole lives to the diligent study of the Word of God. And yet they are unable to hear God’s Word from Jesus’ lips. Worse, they are unable to recognize the Word made flesh in Jesus. Why? Because their sense of self-righteousness is blinding them with biases and prejudgments against the people they label as sinners, like Matthew.

With that as a background, you will really understand why we call Jesus’ message a “good news”. It is about the Word of God being found at last, not by the righteous, but by the sinners. Ironically, while the religious seekers of the word are fasting when they should be feasting, while they are suffering from “spiritual famine”, it is the sinners who are enjoying a banquet with the Incarnate word in their company.

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Veritas Editorial

Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual

Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual

President of Radio Veritas

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