Body and Blood of Christ


Drinking Well

15 Sunday Year B, First Reading

It is Safe not to say


    Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, said to Amos, 'Go away, seer, get back to the land of Judah; earn your bread there, do your prophesying there. We want no more prophesying in Bethel; this is the royal sanctuary, the national temple.' 'I was no prophet, neither did I belong to any of the brotherhoods of prophets,' Amos replied to Amaziah 'I was a shepherd and looked after sycamores; but it was the Lord who took me from herding the flock, and the Lord who said, 'Go, prophesy to my people Israel.'

Amos 7:12-15



When Oscar Romero was appointed Archbishop of San Salvador in 1977 many people were disappointed. They said that he was a timid and hesitant person and that he would not stand up for the poor.  Three weeks after he took up office one of his priests and two lay workers were assassinated by an army death squad. He went to the village where the bodies were laid out and spent the night there with the people in prayer. Next day he announced that until an official investigation into the deaths was made, he would boycott all state functions. The investigation did not take place and the Archbishop never attended a state occasion, not even the installation of a new president.

From then on he became the courageous defender of the poor and the voice of those who had no public voice. His Sunday sermons from the cathedral were broadcast on the diocesan radio; in them he denounced injustice and violence. Within three years he was assassinated by a member of the same death squads.

Oscar Romero could have chosen an easier way. He could have remained on good terms with the government. He would have had a prominent place on state occasions and would have been treated with respect. It has always been a temptation for Church leaders to remain on good terms with the rich and the powerful, and to say nothing that would upset or annoy them.

Each of us in our own way faces the same temptation. We must not say anything that will upset the people we look up to or depend on for a living. Imagine having to stand up at a trade union meeting and disagree with a unanimous decision that you believe is wrong.  Even in our own families we may bring a lot of trouble on ourselves if we speak unwelcome truths. 

Amaziah was a priest at the Temple at Bethel. This was not just a place of prayer.  Amaziah was quick to tell people that "this is the royal sanctuary, the national temple." He made sure that nothing was said that would upset the king who worshipped there or distress the important people who came to the national temple.

Along came Amos. He was a shepherd from Judah, an outsider with no religious or social standing. He said he was sent by God as a prophet, and he went on to denounce the king and the rich people for their corruption and exploitation of the poor.  He said that unless they changed their ways, the temple would be destroyed, the king would be overthrown and the people would be sent into exile. 

Amaziah was furious. He told Amos that the royal sanctuary and the national temple was no place for this kind of talk, and that if he wanted to prophesy he could go back to his own country and do it there. 

There are two kinds of people. The majority are like Amaziah. They protect their own interests and turn a blind eye to what is wrong; they will not say anything that may bring trouble on themselves or on their families. But there are always some who will speak the truth, no matter what the cost.

Lord, we thank you that in every age you raise up
prophets like the prophet, Amos.
They listen to your word and they recognize the signs of the times.
You say to them, ‘Prophesy to my people.’ 
They speak your word without fear or favour.
Give us a portion of their honesty and courage.


Brendan Clifford


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Safe not to say


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