He was a shepherd and dresser of sycamore trees. A shepherd from Tekoa, a little village located about nine kilometres south of Bethlehem in the land of Judah. He was sent by God to speak in his name to the people of Israel, the northern kingdom which had broken away from Judah in the year 930 BC. He preached in Israel when Jeroboam was in power as king, 783-743. He spoke against the religious abuses and social injustices prevalent at the time. According to Amos religious worship without a morally good life had no value in the eyes of God. Amaziah the priest in charge of the sanctuary of Bethel expelled Amos from Israel. Amos crime was that he spoke the truth, the undiluted message of God. He was told that he is not wanted and he should go back to where he came from. However, the rejection and hostility of Amaziah could not deter Amos from doing the work God called him to do, he remained resolute even in the face of persecutions and trials.
The story of Amos is the story of many sincere priests and pastors and people who preach the undiluted gospel in our society today. Men and women who speak truth to power without fear or favour and condemn evil and injustices in the society. Some of them have suffered because of the gospel message. Some of them have been arrested, intimidated, blackmailed, attacked and harassed by some corrupt government officials and leaders for speaking the truth. In our gospel reading of today Jesus called the twelve apostles and sent them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits. In addition, he told them to detach themselves from material things as God will provide their needs according to his riches in glory (Phil. 4:19). They were to trust absolutely in God’s providence. The apostles obeyed and went out and preached the good news to the people and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it (Mk 16:20).
Like Amos and the apostles, we are all called, priests, religious and lay faithful and sent out by Jesus to speak the gospel of truth in a world that celebrates falsehood and detest truth. Pope Francis says, that it is our great responsibility as baptized persons to proclaim Christ. All baptised persons are evangelizers. We are called not only to preach the word with the words of our mouth but by our way of life. The best form of evangelization is witnessing. Hence Francis of Assisi says, preach the gospel at all times and when necessary, use words. Our exemplary lifestyle should invite people to Christ and to the church. When we speak the truth in our families and working places, we preach the gospel. When we speak against injustice and oppression and inequality in our society, we preach the gospel. When we do good to everyone around us, we preach the gospel.
When we treat our fellow human beings with dignity and love we preach the gospel. We do not preach the gospel only with the microphone but by our life as well. Pope Paul VI reminds us that modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses. We are called preach the good news and serve God in truth and in spirit as religious worship and evangelization without a morally good life have no value in the eyes of God. Preachers of the word must heed to the command of Jesus to detach themselves from the love of materials things so that they may be free to announce the good news. Some preachers today have been distracted by love of money and so have become less effective in their mission. We must all rekindle the fire and zeal of genuine evangelization as in the time of the apostles and go into the world and fearlessly preach the good news of salvation.
As we undertake this noble task, let us bear in mind that the enemies of the gospel and truth will surely attack us and attempt to intimidate and stop us just like they did to Amos. The truth is, corrupt and wicked leaders may oppress and succeeds in killing some of the messengers of God as some leaders in Israel did to many of the prophets and apostles in Israel. However, preachers of today and indeed all believers must never be deterred by threats, intimidation and attacks from the enemies of truth and the gospel. The grace of God is sufficient for them and the power of the Holy Spirit will continually strengthen them to continue to do great things for God and his people. We must be courageous and never be afraid of preaching the gospel. For Jesus enjoins us never to fear him who can only destroy the flesh but cannot touch the soul but fear him who is able to destroy both the soul and body (Matt.10:28). Only God can destroy both soul and body in hell. He is the only Supreme Being we owe absolute allegiance now and always.