We have this Sunday a reading from the Prophet Amos. Introducing Amos and prophecy in general to you is worthwhile, for prophets, true prophets, speak to us the word of God.

Amos was a shepherd in Tekoa of Judah, and he prophesied in the eighth century before Christ during the prosperous reign of Jeroboam II. He prophesied in Israel at the cult center of Bethel. His prophecy earned him a dismissal from that shrine, a royal sanctuary, by the priest. His dismissal, then, may appropriately be understood as similar to the rejection of Jesus by the religious leaders centuries later.

Prophecy is frequently misunderstood. It does not have to mean predicting the future. More often prophecy involves calling the people back to the high moral and religious demands of God’s revelation. Occasionally, prophets include warnings of the consequences that will follow continued deafness to God’s call.

A particular prophecy frequently is called an oracle. The oracle that is the reading on Sunday (8:4-7) prophesies against the greed that seeks gain from trampling upon the needy and the poor of the land. Specifically Amos rails against those profiteers who chafe when they cannot sell grain during the festivals of the new moon and on the Sabbath. Their desire for profits leads them to diminish the regulated measures of grain and wheat, and to cheat the poor by fixing their scales that weigh money so that they make a false profit.

Amos prophesies that the Lord has sworn never to forget a thing that they have done.