June 27, 2022
by Scott McClure
Creighton University - retired
click here for photo and information about the writer

Monday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 377

Amos 2:6-10, 13-16
Psalm 50:16bc-17, 18-19, 20-21, 22-23
Matthew 8:18-22
Praying Ordinary Time

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

A Matter of the Heart: Prayer as Relationship

When I was in graduate school to become a teacher, a beloved professor of ours had a mantra (as the good ones can). Here was his: Firm - Fair - Consistent; as in, be firm, fair and consistent with your students. Doc, as we affectionately called our professor, was all of these things - and he had practice. It is a wonder why, therefore, I thought my honest explanation of the printer not working would be sufficient when I entered class one day without my assignment in-hand. I didn't want to be late, after all. Well, when my rationale landed flat and Doc signaled that my assignment grade could be in jeopardy for late submission he looked at me with a playful smile and said, "It looks like you have a decision to make." That is, go print and submit the assignment in class but be late to class as a result, or be on-time to class and sacrifice points for a late assignment. Doc was firm and he was fair. Doc was also consistent. This last quality, in my opinion, was arguably the toughest to faithfully employ in the classroom. A firm and fair policy when exercised inconsistently was, ipso facto, neither firm nor fair. 

Much like Doc, Amos in our first reading today tells Israel they have a decision to make. The footnote for Amos 2:6 reveals that 'Amos' audience would applaud his condemnation of foreign kingdoms in the foregoing seven oracles...But now he adds an eighth, unexpected oracle - against Israel itself.' By including Israel amongst the other seven, Amos is showing God's consistency. There was not a corner of the Earth where his commands (and love) did not reach, including with his chosen people. 

How often, I wonder, do I applaud justice when applied to others but am silenced when it is applied to me? How often am I the sort of hypocrite I would otherwise condemn? These questions are uncomfortable and unsettling. To face our shortcomings always is. But after the bitterness of doing so comes the sweetness of the invitation we hear Jesus utter today in Matthew: Follow me. Jesus, being the good teacher that he is, never abandons us but always invites us to join him. And we can rely on God to be consistent with this invitation always. 

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Scott McClure <smcclure45@gmail.com>

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