Thursday, June 30, 2016

Courage, Rise up and Go

By Beth DeCristofaro

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.’ Now hear the word of the LORD!”  (Amos 7:14-16)

After entering a boat, Jesus made the crossing and came into his own town. And there people brought to him a paralytic lying on a stretcher. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Courage, child, your sins are forgiven.” At that, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” Jesus knew what they were thinking, and said, “Why do you harbor evil thoughts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? (Matthew 9:1-5)

Lord grant me the grace
to have freedom of the spirit.
Cleanse my heart and soul
so I may live joyously in your love.

Scripture is filled with stories of people who thought they were just not enough.   Prophets, kings, heroines started out as exiles, shepherds, peasant girls. By being called and heeding the voice of God they overreached themselves.  In the NAB notes to the book of Amos we learn that “Amos is a prophet of divine judgment, and the sovereignty of the Lord in nature and history dominates his thought. … his conservatism was in keeping with the whole prophetic tradition calling the people back to the high moral and religious demands of the Lord’s revelation. Amos’s message stands as one of the most powerful voices ever to challenge hypocrisy and injustice. He boldly indicts kings, priests, and leaders.”[i]

In our own life we waffle: “Who me Lord?” and often “Just tell me what you want me to do, Lord.”  But Jesus’ merciful and inspiring interaction with the man brought on the stretcher provides another way of hearing the call.  This man was brought to Jesus.  He responded rather than initiated.  And Jesus showed him that his spiritual wellbeing and his physical healing were equally valuable in the eyes of God.  Jesus came to him when he saw the faith of his companions.  Jesus comes to us, children, recognizing faith, the need for healing or completing an incompleteness.  Jesus comes to us. 

God writes on the wall of our lives through relationship.  Jesus as our human brother as well as divine Lord welcomes us into a dynamic, life-fulfilling bond and rapport. Jesus asks us to expand this special kinship through community with others.   May we not be indicted by being hypocritical, acting in our own self-interest, choosing idols or otherwise being blind to his presence and grace as was Amaziah and the scribes. 

Take up the mat on which I lie to follow Jesus with a word, action, deed.  Neither illness, law, culture, ignorance, fear, accident of birth – no nothing - can keep Him from me nor me from Him.  Whose mat can I help carry, being with them in their plight until they are ready to leave it behind?

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